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. North Carolina asks court to move Mary Willingham lawsuit to federal court

    Jul 31, 2014, 10:13 PM EDT

    Image (1) university-of-north-carolina-logo-thumb-220x177-1144.jpg for post 315

    Mary Willingham’s lawsuit came to light in early July, with the NCAA deciding to reopen its investigation at around the same time.

  2. 2016 guard Josh Jackson announces his new high school [VIDEO]

    Jul 31, 2014, 8:30 PM EDT

    (Scott Phillips/NBC Sports) (Scott Phillips/NBC Sports)

    The explosive shooting guard’s new school is located in Napa, California.

  3. Xavier’s new court design? Cincy’s skyline, but not chili (PHOTO)

    Jul 31, 2014, 7:30 PM EDT

    @slrussell @slrussell

    The court will be redesigned by the end of the month.

  4. Recruitment starting to pick up for top 30 point forward Braxton Blackwell

    Jul 31, 2014, 5:20 PM EDT

    Kelly Kline/Under Armour Kelly Kline/Under Armour

    Blackwell is a member of the Class of 2016 but is already hearing from some notable programs.

  5. Rick Brunson charged with attempted sexual assault, battery

    Jul 31, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT

    Vernon Hills Police Department Vernon Hills Police Department

    Brunson is the father of a top 15 recruit and a potential hire for a program in the AAC.

  6. How can Wichita State build on the two best years in program history?

    Jul 31, 2014, 1:15 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP Photo

    Wichita State is coming off of a Final Four and an undefeated regular season. What happens if they can’t match that success again?

  7. Grant Hill donates $1.25 million to Duke

    Jul 31, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP Photo

    It’s the second time Hill has donated a million to the school

  8. N.C. State releases their 2014-2015 non-conference schedule

    Jul 31, 2014, 10:02 AM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    It’s not that strong, but it could have been much worse.

  9. Auburn releases signee Sam Logwood from National Letter of Intent

    Jul 30, 2014, 9:32 PM EDT

    adidas adidas

    The highly athletic wing is back on the market, but he’s yet to be cleared academically.

  10. Guard Quinndary Weatherspoon becomes Mississippi State’s third 2015 commit

    Jul 30, 2014, 8:17 PM EDT

    Rick Ray AP

    The Bulldogs succeeded in keeping a talented in-state product home.

  11. Marquette guard Todd Mayo leaves program to pursue professional opportunities

    Jul 30, 2014, 7:12 PM EDT

    Todd Mayo AP

    Mayo’s decision means that Marquette has to replace its top four scorers from last season.

  12. 2015 shooting guard Terence Davis verbally commits to Ole Miss

    Jul 30, 2014, 6:51 PM EDT

    Andy Kennedy AP

    Just over a month after landing a junior college guard, the Rebels have their second commit in the Class of 2015.

  13. UCLA AD Dan Guerrero expects Pauley Pavilion to be ready for regular season

    Jul 30, 2014, 5:00 PM EDT

    UCLA Introduces Steve Alford Getty Images

    UCLA is holding out hope that John Wooden Court can be salvaged, but if not they’ll have time to replace it.

  14. Mixtape for VCU-bound Terry Larrier (VIDEO)

    Jul 30, 2014, 3:12 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Larrier is the best recruit that Shaka Smart has landed at VCU.

  15. Junior college prospect Andre Spight working to improve point guard skills

    Jul 30, 2014, 12:51 PM EDT

    South Plains College South Plains College

    After averaging 16.0 points per game as a freshman, the South Plains College guard is looking to become a better lead guard as a sophomore.

  16. Report: Dayton lands a three-star recruit from DC

    Jul 30, 2014, 11:39 AM EDT

    Nike Nike

    It’s Dayton’s third commitment from the Class of 2015