Skip to content

Mark Emmert on paying athletes: ‘If you’re going to come to us, you’re going to be a student’

Sep 17, 2013, 11:13 AM EDT

Mark Emmert AP

There may not be a more contentious debate in all of college athletics than whether or not the players that generate so many billions of dollars in revenue should receive a larger cut of those profits.

Conferences are signing billion-dollar deals for the rights to broadcast their games. The NCAA tournament is responsible for generating roughly three-quarters of the organization’s annual revenue. Every “scandal” involving college athletics that breaks further proves that these athletes have value; that there are people willing to spend their hard-earned money on these athletes.

Maybe it’s the $500 handshakes that football players were getting at Oklahoma State. Or maybe it’s the money that agents were willing to spend on players like Alabama lineman DJ Fluker or Kansas shooting guard Ben McLemore to ensure that they would become a client when they graduated. Or maybe it’s the thousands of dollars that Johnny Manziel was able to pocket simply by signing his name on a bunch of helmets.

Whatever the case may be, it’s becoming more and more difficult to justify the idea that the best athletes in revenue sports are getting a fair deal being limited to a college scholarship.

But according to NCAA president Mark Emmert, it’s unlikely that will change any time soon.

”One thing that sets the fundamental tone is there’s very few members and, virtually no university president, that thinks it’s a good idea to convert student-athletes into paid employees. Literally into professionals,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said Monday at Marquette University as part of the school’s ‘On the Issues’ forum. ”Then you have something very different from collegiate athletics. One of the guiding principles (of the NCAA) has been that this is about students who play sports.”

Emmert also questioned why an athlete that wants to be a professional would bother going to college.

”It’s a dynamic tension that we really need to work on because it’s at heart of part of what talking about here,” he said. “Why would we want to force someone to go to school when they really don’t want to be there? But if you’re going to come to us, you’re going to be a student.”

Why would an athlete want to play in college?

Well, quite simply, because the best way for a prodigy to make their way to the NBA is through the NCAA. Going straight to the D-League doesn’t get these kids the kind of exposure that college basketball does. The same can be said for Europe.

The bottom-line is that this a pitch that Emmert is going to have to continue to sell, because there are so many administrators like him that cash six and seven figure checks thanks to amateurism keeping the money flowing. The NCAA doesn’t pay taxes and puts severe limits on the amount that the people generating the revenue can bring in (a scholarship isn’t enough, but it is reimbursement). If that changes, if there is less money to go around, the cuts have to come from somewhere.

And I’d be willing to bet that Emmert, and the people that made Emmert the (handsomely-paid) face of their organization don’t want to see their bottom-line affected.

Latest Posts
  1. Texas A&M adds former USF point guard, eligible immediately

    Apr 26, 2015, 8:45 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Collins averaged 7.1 points and 5.2 assists per game last season, and his arrival could lead to Alex Caruso getting more scoring opportunities off the ball.

  2. Alcorn State announces hiring of Montez Robinson as head coach

    Apr 26, 2015, 7:35 PM EDT

    Bethune-Cookman Athletics Bethune-Cookman Athletics

    Robinson has quite the rebuilding job on his hands, but guard LeAntwan Luckett (16.3 ppg) is one of the team’s top four scorers who have eligibility remaining.

  3. Former Arizona State signee headed to Washington

    Apr 26, 2015, 7:05 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Dominic Green was released from his National Letter of Intent to Arizona State a couple weeks ago.

  4. New NCAA VP of Division I governance wants to take closer look at graduate ‘transfer’ rules

    Apr 26, 2015, 6:02 PM EDT

    NCAA_Logo AP

    In addition to making graduates sit out a year, there’s also consideration of the idea that schools can restrict where they can go.

  5. Top 100 point guard headed to Iowa State

    Apr 26, 2015, 4:05 PM EDT

    Fred Hoiberg Fred Hoiberg

    Nick Noskowiak joins former Arkansas guard Nick Babb as players who have committed to Iowa State this month.

  6. Kennesaw State hires former Boston College head coach Al Skinner

    Apr 26, 2015, 2:29 PM EDT

    Skinner_web

    Skinner was the longtime coach of Boston College.

  7. New Alabama head coach Avery Johnson touring with Nick Saban

    Apr 26, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT

    Avery Johnson AP

    Avery Johnson is touring with Nick Saban to get more familiar with being a head coach at Alabama.

  8. UAA Day 2: The return of Seventh Woods; Markelle Fultz is the real deal; Josh Jackson’s up-and-down day

    Apr 26, 2015, 11:30 AM EDT

    (Kelly Kline/Under Armour) (Kelly Kline/Under Armour)

    The Under Armour Association has plenty of talented players in its league this season, including former mixtape star Seventh Woods and the No. 1 player in the Class of 2016, Josh Jackson.

  9. Nike EYBL Day 2: Malik Monk gets busy; Harry Giles has a quiet outing; Wendell Carter steps up

    Apr 26, 2015, 10:15 AM EDT

    (USA Baketball) (USA Baketball)

    Malik Monk had a dominating effort on Saturday while Harry Giles didn’t make much of an impact.

  10. No. 1 in Class of 2016 Josh Jackson has a monster outing at Under Armour Association (VIDEO)

    Apr 26, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT

    (Kelly Kline/Under Armour) (Kelly Kline/Under Armour)

    Josh Jackson went for 41 points, seven assists and six rebounds at the Under Armour Association.

  11. Texas point guard Isaiah Taylor returning for junior season

    Apr 25, 2015, 10:19 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Taylor averaged 13.1 points and 4.6 assists per game last season, and his decision to return is a nice boost for head coach Shaka Smart.

  12. Iowa State hosts three players, including two who would be eligible immediately

    Apr 25, 2015, 9:55 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Graduate students Max Bielfeldt and Tyler Harris were in Ames this weekend, as was former Marquette commit Nick Noskowiak.

  13. Manhattan adds former Ball State point guard Zavier Turner

    Apr 25, 2015, 7:30 PM EDT

    Ball State v Marquette Getty Images

    Turner won MAC Rookie of the Year honors in 2013-14.

  14. Former Rutgers forward transfers to Tulsa

    Apr 25, 2015, 5:59 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Junior Etou averaged 7.4 points and 6.6 rebounds per game last season.

  15. Former Memphis forward transferring to Alabama

    Apr 25, 2015, 4:33 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    King averaged 7.2 points and 4.8 rebounds per game last season at Memphis.

  16. Mixtape for Duke’s next point guard, Derryck Thornton (VIDEO)

    Apr 25, 2015, 3:12 PM EDT

    Kelly Kline, Under Armor Kelly Kline, Under Armor

    Thornton will fill the void left by Tyus Jones at the point.

  17. Oregon lands four-star Class of 2016 wing

    Apr 25, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT

    Dana Altman AP

    Oregon landed a commitment from a former San Diego State pledge.

  18. Maryland guard will return for one more season

    Apr 25, 2015, 11:45 AM EDT

    image

    Maryland returns another reserve guard for next season.