Dr. Boyce: March Madness Revenue Exceeds $1 Billion, Players Get Harmed in the Process


by Dr. Boyce Watkins

In case you’re not aware, the NCAA is big, really big.  This professional sports league that disguises itself as being amateur is rolling in money and profitability.  Much of this excess is driven by the fact that their competitors, the NFL, NBA and Major League baseball, have one line item in their budgets that the NCAA does not have:  The cost of compensating their players.

For the first time ever, ad revenue from March Madness has crossed the $1 billion dollar mark.   According to Kantar Media, no other professional sports league has surpassed this number for post-season ad revenue.  The NFL took in in a “measly” $976 million and the NBA was even more embarrassing at $537 million.  Oh, Major League Baseball was barely worth mentioning, at $354 million.  These numbers don’t include the hundreds of millions being brought in from t-shirts, tickets, popcorn and everything else they sell us during this wonderful time of the year.   The bottom line is that they are rolling in so much money that if the NCAA were a hip-hop label, it would be called the “Young Money Monopoly.”

Now considering that the league with the lowest post-season revenue has players making as much as $30 million dollars per year, you can only imagine how much the mother of a college athlete might benefit if her child were able to negotiate his fair market value.

Even more interesting is the way that the NCAA has played with our heads.  They market their improved graduation rates as if that’s fair compensation to a player whose siblings are still living in the projects.  I’m sure that a player’s hungry relatives will be glad to hear that a $3 million dollar salary has been traded in for a nice degree in General Studies that could get the player an assistant manager’s job at Applebee’s.  All the the while, the coaches (most of whom are white) fly on private jets, build multi-million dollar summer homes and buy expensive cars for their 16-year old daughters, all on the back of fresh recruits that they picked up from various “hoods” across the country.

When people ask me if I believe that college athletes should be paid, I simply respond to their question with another question:  Why SHOULDN’T they be paid?  You expect to be paid when you work and so do I. When a child actor plays a leading role in a $100 million dollar blockbuster film, her family expects to see big checks coming in the mail.  Why do we have a different set of rules for college athletes?

When someone approaches me about the “absurdity” of athletes being paid, I then say that perhaps rather than paying them, we can simply give them the same negotiation and labor rights afforded to nearly every other employee in America.  When someone works that hard to control what you do and how you do it, it’s typically because they are s******g you.  Yes, I said it:  College athletes and their families are being screwed like $2 prostitutes.

As a Finance Professor, educator and a black man, I will just say this:  This system is financially corrupt.  No one turns on an NCAA tournament game to see the coach, they only want to see the players.  If that’s the case, then why does the coach walk home with a seven figure salary while the star player’s mother is struggling to pay her bills?  Would the coach accept a scholarship in exchange for a $3 – 4 million dollar salary?  I think not.

Secondly, I can say that after teaching for 20 years on college campuses with big time athletics programs, the schedule of a professional athlete often keeps players away from fully pursuing their academic responsibilities.  I’ll never forget the time I tutored a student who told me that his coaches asked him to change his major to find one that was more suitable for his football schedule.   The coaches looked at me like a lunatic for suggesting that perhaps he was in college to study and not just play football.

Third, as a black man, I can say that this is the second -most racially-exploitative system in America behind the Prison Industrial Complex.  In both cases, a set of illogical laws have been put in place to extract billions of dollars in labor from a group of people without giving them fair compensation.  A massive amount of wealth is taken from the African American community every single year, as our greatest athletes run and jump for all-white crowds and corporate sponsors who get rich from our extraordinary talent.

The wonderfully manipulative mind game that the NCAA plays on us is one that somehow convinces us that it should be illegal for an athlete to receive money for his labor.  All the while, they find nothing wrong with a coach with no academic responsibility going onto a campus and extracting millions of dollars that could be used for student scholarships or paying the individuals actually doing the work.  That’s one h**l of a hustle, and it’s been working for decades.

What’s the solution to this problem?  Athletes and their families have to stand up.  Former athletes who’ve been manipulated by this system need to make their voices heard, and all Americans who believe in fairness and labor rights should support athletes in their quest to provide for their families.  If players refuse to show up and play, then there is no game.  If there is no game, there is no money.  Shutting down the system where it stands would get the NCAA’s attention and force them to recognize the obvious.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is a faculty affiliate at the College Sport Research Institute at The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.  He is also the founder of ALARM:  The Athlete Liberation Academic Reform Movement.  To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here. Please join Dr. Watkins and Min. Louis Farrakhan for a summit on “Wealth, Education, Family and Community: A New Paradigm for Black America” to be held in Chicago on March 30. You can RSVP by clicking here.

61 Responses to Dr. Boyce: March Madness Revenue Exceeds $1 Billion, Players Get Harmed in the Process

  1. I agree 100%…the players and there families should be well compensated so as to ease there financial issues, under the condition that the student player keep there grades up to standard

  2. This is 1000% on point. They have bamboozled everyone into thinking that these p,ayers are student athletes. I bet Coach K or any other high profile or low profile coach in the NCAA would trade their salaries for scholarships for their kids to go to school. Kids can play tennis, golf and compete in X Games and get paid for their work. I say pay them the fair market rate then deduct normal tuition fees from their salaries. The athletes would still earn hundreds of thousands. I even say put 90% of their earnings into trust that is available after their college “careers” are over. They would still have spending money or money to help their families and hen have a trust fund waitingforwhen he graduate to help them start their own businesses, buy houses, whatever they need.

    • Check yourself Matt. You are saying that colleges should “pay” athletes more than their tuition, and room and board, but the players (yeah, they are legally adults) can’t decide how they are going to spend their salary, because it is going into a “trust”? What if, like most D1 football and basketball players, they drop out? They don’t get the money that they have already earned? Name me one other job that works that way in terms of compensation.

  3. Pingback: NCAA, March Madness and Labor Equality for All

  4. Pingback: NCAA, March Madness and Labor Equality for All | TheJusticeTeam

  5. Pingback: NCAA, March Madness and Labor Equality for All |

  6. Here it is, March Madness essays about paying student-athletes, right on time for the tournament. Dr. Boyce can’t get around the fact that going to college to play a sport is entirely VOLUNTARY behavior. For every high school basketball player who thinks that they are valuable enough to demand money from a university to play a sport for them, there are going to be a thousand who will gladly do it for a dorm room, a meal plan. and the opportunity to continue suiting up to play a game in front of cheering fans in a college field house, or even on national television. Why pay someone a salary to do an activity that thousands will gladly do for nothing? People get paid to wash dishes, or wait tables at Applebee’s because you HAVE to pay them to get them to do it. How many of the players in the NCAA D1 basketball tournament would go to their coach before the game and say “I’m not going to play unless you cut me a check!” Zero?
    The coaches get paid a big stack of green because the boards that run colleges think that they are worth that much to the institutions. They get that kind of value by having successful careers toiling as assistants, and after years coaching in D2 and D3 schools for little money or recognition. And by the way, they are all college graduates! All the players bring to the table is height, natural athleticism, and maybe the fact that they were lucky enough to have a good coach and decent program in high school.
    The really good players will see a nice payday from the NBA later on, and the vast majority of players who are not good enough for the NBA will be happy to have the chance to play organized ball in front of cheering crowds for a couple of more years. They also have the opportunity to be admitted to a good college that would have passed on them if they couldn’t hit a three point shot, unlike 99% of their classmates, many of whom will end up at Applebee’s, or worse.

    • As long as a Black man or youth has a ba.ll in his hands, he’s NO THREAT to you yankees because y’all still CONTROL him!

      When you honkeys use the words ‘athletic ability’ or ‘athletic’ you are using code words to DEMEAN the Black man…you are calling him an animal!!! Remember, there have been some cracker announcers, who once called Black men horses, studs, monkeys, and beasts when they described Black player’s ‘athletic ability’!!! Some of these honkeys are still using these code names to DEGRADE Black ba.ll players. DO YOU HEAR THEM CALLING white boys OUT OF THEIR NAMES?

      The word ‘athletic ability’ in code lanuage means an animal or horse-like ‘niq.qa’ creature, and ‘athletic’ means ‘niq.qa jocks’. Remember, during our forced enslavement the slave maker only allowed Black men to PLAY SPORTS (mainly boxing). He also made bets with his cracker counterparts on which slave would win a SPORTING EVENT!

      The same thang is happening today because SPORTS is the #1 organization that people make bets on in Los Vegas!!!

      These crackers make BILLIONS, while these Black ba.ll players CONTINUE TO MAKE THEM RICH!!! These honkeys eat steak, while these brothers eat sardines!!!


      I’m out!

      • Derrick, Thanks for your reply! That is the funniest thing I have seen in a long time.

        • Derrick may have gone over the edge with the race card, but YOU’RE the one who’s missed the point, JP.

          Playing a college sport IS a voluntary activity, but so is working for a living. Your claim that some other person would do it for free is nonsense – nobody will pay to see the fat, clumsy kid playing sports. Being able to throw a football doesn’t make you a quarterback…and it IS about money. You’re lying to yourself if you think otherwise.

          The reason the coaches get paid such big salaries is because they coach athletically talented individuals into performing physical MIRACLES on the courts or fields, which people will pay big money to see. The coaches get a 7-figure share of THAT MONEY…and the actual miracle performers get room and board. If that sounds fair to you, I feel sorry for you.

          Truly sorry.

          • @Steven, playing college ball is voluntary. JP is right. As an African who played college ball, I couldn’t for the life of me understand why my African American brothers didn’t take their education seriously.

            A significant number of them were set on entering the pros with no back up plan (basket weaving degrees) .
            Ideally, the money is for the schools, “ideally”. I am from Africa, I know people steal.

            It’s no different than scientific discoveries made by students in the laboratory and they get nothing in return besides recognition.
            Students athletes are not forced to play ball in college, and no coach could eveconvince a serious student to change his major.

      • Wayne Norbe'rt Hazzard

        @Derrick. Thank you Sir, Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Totally on point.

  7. A response to Patrick Anderson: When you say that an overwhelming number student athletes in “all three sports” are black, you certainly can’t be talking about football, basketball, AND baseball. The number of black players in D1 college baseball is TINY. But then, few baseball players go into MLB from college. The athletes that really benefit financially from playing big time college sports are the ones that go from there into the NBA, and the NFL. And yes, most of them are black.

  8. Mr. J.P. Morgan you sound like the keeper of the Plantation Flame.

    • Bertsell, A modern college is a plantation? A “plantation” with libraries, computers, swimming pools, semi-private suites, recreational facilities, dining facilities with nutritious, ample, and good tasting food, offices hours where you can talk to PhDs, and you can leave any time you want. And someone else is paying for you to live there because you are good at playing a game. Compared to the lives of actual slaves that lived on actual plantations, and the pain and privations that they had to endure, the comparison is sickening. You disrespect their memory. And what are the groundskeepers, maintenance people janitors, secretaries, and kitchen staff on the campus? You don’t think that they wouldn’t change places with the students in a heartbeat if they had the opportunity?

      • McMahon… You said, a modern college is a Plantation an a few other things I disagree with! Bro Derrick let your azz off the hook but I will not! Your reasoning sounds as if you are one of those backward Sounthern BOYS living in the past. If you really think that those Colleges can exist without the BLACK athletes that play those sports you are living in the PAST. You said all the players bring to the table is natural talent, it takes knowledge of the game to play those sports. The coaches get paid Big Stacks of Green because the Boards that run colleges THINK they are worth it. An they get that kind of value by having successful careers TOILING as ASSISTANTS an after years as coaching in D2 an D3 schools for little money or recognition. Some of them never played Shiz an if they did play they were not good at what they did. YES the players should be compensated for the performances that they provide for these PLANTATIONS! To me these athletic programs are nothing but a form of SLAVERY! An I’m going to make it my business to let every young HIGH SCHOOL athlete in my area know why they are being recruited for certain COLLEGES! There are STILL some of us that know the TRUTH about people like you with that mind set!

  9. I agree with the article and the blacks are being used like slaves but the other half is the problem with these illiterate negro athletes who don’t give a d**n about getting their education. If these fools would their opportunity to study and earn a real degree they could change the whole system. Technically they are attending school free in exchange for playing college ball. But many as I said don’t care about learing and can barely read/write.

    • Posted my comment before reading yours. You are on point.

    • Maxx..Before you post, please educate yourself if possible. A great number of these players love the game. Slaves were forced to do things. No one is forcing these guys to play. I would like for you to meet my cousin. Got excellent grades in high school and college. After graduating, he was drafted by an NBA team. This was not his only interest.He majored in business and now owns a new housing development,had it built. Bought 90 acres of land that produces timber. He owns 50 beef master cattles and is in the process of building a tutoring center for students failing in reading and math. He own a 2004 SUV and lives in a modest size house and send his kids to the best schools. If it was possilbe I would invite you to take a tour with me. Those who you call stupid nig…would put you to shame. You are a patheic person, worrying about guys who are infact worrying about you because you are so miserable and resentful.

  10. Out Standing !

  11. Barbara J. Turner

    This is a great article we have got to find a way to stop being used as slaves. You just told us the truth and I thank you!!!

    • Wayne Norbe'rt Hazzard

      @Barbara. I’m with you on this. It is about finding ways and reaching toward those handicapped by no fathering, mothering and the host of other obstacles that overtake our children.


  13. We need to start are own league, a league which can pay athletes out of High School 6 to 7 figure salaries so that they can have an alternative to playing for free at college or going overseas. The NBA is in on this college scam also because athletes aren’t allowed to go straight from HS to the pros anymore.

    With today’s pitiful economy college degrees don’t have the power or relevance that it used to back in the day. I got friends and relatives with bachelors and master degrees that are catching h**l in this economy. If I was in the financial position and had the right connections, I would start a basketball league for these young brothers so that they wouldn’t have to work and tear their bodies up for free for the master.

  14. Dangerous game of monopoly and we have not passed go and have not collected 200 bucks! ! If these parents sent their kids to HBCU’S, we wouldn’t have this problem and they would get their degree and the pro teams will still come look for u, ask grambling! ! They have their own area in the NFL hall of fame! !! Maat. .

  15. I gotta say WOW at Bro Derrick’s comments. Your on point bro.

  16. Those school’s want athletes not brains. The young black guys that don’t make it, the go back to the hood and sell dime bags. Next stop prison..

  17. Much of the problem begins at the high school level. Many young athletes look forward to collegiate scholarships with no intent to even stay in college. They see a chance to get drafted into the pros with education being the last thing on their minds. For them, big money lies ahead. When they do make the pros and are interviewed at half-time, many of them can’t speak properly, leaving the viewer to wonder what went wrong.

  18. The late great lawyer, Johnny Cochran, had the NCAA on his agenda and he was assassinated. Yes I said assassinated! Even his family refused to speak publicly about Johnny’s death. Fighting the NCAA is dangerous business. One individual leading the charge will not work, It has to be a charge by the masses.

  19. @ “Crosstown”; Ask these college athletes, how many make it to the Pros. Most don’t care about their education; which started when they were in high school. So Sad.

  20. Muata Nowe….respectfully, you really should look at the big picture. Your comment completely ignores the sadistic legacy of the great lengths that white folks and the powers that be go to, to ensure the failure of the black family and community as a whole.

  21. Black folk are waiting on White folk to change the rules even though they are cashing in under the current situation. Will never happen unless we come together which has been a major challenge for us in the past.

  22. If student-athletes were to insist on being paid for their “services,” the price of tickets to their games would skyrocket. This would translate into far fewer fans in the seats and could well price most of college sports out of the TV market, which might even end up reducing the total revenue brought in by college sports and the money used to support the athletes with scholarships, reducing the number of these athletes who will be able to have a free ride through four years of college.

    Student-athletes should appreciate the opportunity to attend college they might otherwise not be able to afford. There is big money in college sports, but it’s not a pot o’ gold for every athlete to stick his/her hands into.

    (Note to Dr. Boyce: You say the NCAA is highly profitable. What is the amount of these profits each year? Is this money distributed back to all the colleges that are NCAA members or does the NCAA keep this money to itself?)

  23. What’s crazy is the amount of white kids who get scholarships and are sent to college off the backs of our black athletes. They graduate build companies and those same athletes can’t even get a job with them after their career is over. Furthermore white people went to the Supreme Court to take what little slots we have at those schools. We are getting robbed all over again. It is labor that generates billions that we as the black community get no part of. Slavery… So since that’s the case the top athletes, in my opinion, should go to Division 1 HBCU’s like Howard and NC A&T. At least then the Black Community would reap some of the benefits and it’s playing the game.

  24. Pingback: March Madness Revenue Exceeds $1 Billion, Players Get Harmed In The Process


  26. I have to admit that I love watching March Madness just like I enjoy watching a good action movie…I become engaged in the drive, motivation, competition, risk and guts to reach the objective–winning. I think that an additional stipend along with their scholarship makes more sense than an actual salary because then you would have to pay all NCAA student athletes in soccer, field hockey, volley ball, football, etc…opening up Pandora’s box with bench warmers wanting the same pay as star athletes, breaking down team comradery, etc. I can just see where it would become too big to handle fairly.

  27. Hi friend told me to drop by to read your latest article. It’s pretty fantastic I’m glad he told me to take a read or I would have never read this. This is a topic that I’ve read alot about and I appreciate the time you took the write the article fantastic writing job. I’ll definately come back to read your next one, OH!, and Cheers, look forward to your next post.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>