What’s a Free Education Worth? USA Today adds it up and Black People Still Complain

National exposure, free tuition and board and connections isn’t enough. They must be paid.

I just finished reading The Jump: Sebastian Telfair and the High Stakes Business of High School Ball. The book details the unbelievable amount of time, money and backstabbing that goes into promoting the careers of high school basketball stars.

Most of the athletes are Black and most come from horrible family situations. With the setting of the book in a housing project in Brooklyn, we learn that Sebastian is a welfare families last hope of making it big and moving on up.

One has to wonder how many Black people have this same mentality.

Telfair was courted heavily by major college basketball programs, but ended up being a lottery pick in the NBA Draft. His family hit the lottery too, finally able to leave the projects thanks to Sebastian’s basketball skills and no thanks to any actual work on their part. 
Having originally committed to Louisville, Telfair was drafted by the Portland Trailblazers and signed a contract instantly making him a millionaire many times over. Had he actually gone to college, he would have earned at least $120,000 annually in goods, services and future earnings for his athletic contributions to the school. USA Today published a fantastic cover story delineating the enormous gift that basketball players receive in exchange for their labor on behalf of the university that gives them a scholarship:
That $120,000 represents far more than the $27,923 median grant-in-aid, or athletic scholarship, received by men’s basketball players at the 120 schools in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS).
At Butler University — a private school in the Football Championship Subdivision — tuition, room, board and fees are $42,278 for 2010-11, according to the school’s website.
“Forty thousand dollars-plus a year to play, that’s a pretty good salary for an 18-year-old that has no college education, if you think about it that way,” Howard said.
But more than scholarships, players receive benefits including: elite coaching; academic counseling; strength and conditioning consulting; media relations assistance; medical insurance and treatment; free game tickets; and future earnings power that comes with some college education. 
There also are incalculable perks not included in USA TODAY’s $120,000 figure, most notably the regional and national exposure players receive that typical students don’t. 
Sports economist Andrew Zimbalist, a professor at Smith College in Massachusetts, calls “wrongheaded” this analysis of total value.
Zimbalist, author of a book about college sports finances titled Unpaid Professionals, contends that a typical big-time men’s basketball player’s compensation should be calculated simply: tuition multiplied by the men’s nationwide basketball graduation rate, which, according to NCAA data, is 66%. Then, add room and board value. 
That would total less than $20,000 a year at most schools. 
Lawyer Jeffrey Kessler, whose clients include the NFL Players Association and other sports labor unions, says, “I think it’s very hard to make the case that these athletes are getting a fair shake.”

How it added up to $120,000

Grants-in-aid: These don’t include the full cost of attendance. Some of that full cost can be covered by the NCAA Assistance Fund, which allows additional cash to athletes for, among other items, some books, required clothing and travel to and from home on breaks. 
Critics argue that even the scholarship isn’t costing universities because, in most cases, an athlete’s presence on campus isn’t denying admission to another student. 
“The cost of a scholarship to a school, to simplify it, is an extra chair in a classroom,” says Jon King, who represents Sam Keller, a former Arizona State and Nebraska football player, and Ed O’Bannon, a former UCLA basketball player, in a lawsuit against the NCAA and video game maker EA Sports that centers on the use of athletes’ names and likenesses.
Coaching: One way to determine the value to each athlete of top-flight coaching is to allocate one-fifteenth of a coach’s salary to each player on his roster. But a coach making $200,000 a year might be as effective for some players as a star coach who can leverage the market to make $2 million or $3 million a season.
As Butler’s Howard asks: “What is the value of someone’s coaching (to someone who) never plays again? It’s probably zero. But to someone who is getting better, then gets paid to play, I can see where that value is a lot more.” 
Most years, 60 players worldwide are drafted by the NBA, and another 200 or so college players might move on to minor leagues or non-U.S. teams. The pool of players who bounce a ball for a living after college is limited.
USA TODAY’s formula, then, used the price of private, basketball training facilities that some college players attend to prepare for the NBA and that some NBA players use to polish their skills. 
Three elite centers placed the cost of one year of full-time basketball and conditioning training at $60,000-$80,000.
But for economist Zimbalist, coaching is analogous to “on-the-job training,” which is what workers in many industries receive to enhance their skills or job promotion chances. It’s not considered pay. Zimbalist wouldn’t consider coaching as an added value.
General administrative support, equipment, uniforms, marketing and promotion: These categories provide athletes with a range of $7,000 to $15,000 of value a year.
Players go through as many as six pairs of sneakers a season. Almost all players take advantage of dedicated academic counselors, to whom non-athletes don’t have access. There are sports media relations staffers and the publicity content they produce. 
Medical and insurance premiums: The dollar amount of this is surprisingly small; hundreds of dollars in most institutions, up to $1,200 in others. But the value is huge.
Missouri forward Justin Safford tore a knee ligament last year, requiring surgery. His says his medical bills, including rehab, were covered by the university. A typical Mizzou student wouldn’t get such care.
“I was rehabbing seven days a week, sometimes twice a day,” Safford says. “I didn’t have to go to a physical therapist. I was with our trainer every single day.”
Lawyer Kessler scoffs at this. “(Colleges) keep (players) healthy while they’re on the team,” he says. “It’s just to keep them playing.” 
Game tickets: By NCAA rules, each player can have up to four complimentary admissions for each of his team’s regular-season games, home and away. Not all players use all their tickets. But at popular programs, this can amount to more than $2,000 in value. And that’s before conference and NCAA tournament play, when the admissions allotment grows to six a player.
Future earnings: U.S. Census data show that workers with “some college” earn $6,500 a year more than workers with a high school diploma only. 
In many cases, big-time college basketball players wouldn’t be on a campus without their athletic scholarship. Many, of course, don’t graduate. 
As Howard says: “If you’re talking strictly of someone that’s going to be one (year in school) or two and done, it’s sort of hard to put into numbers how much that’s going to be worth if they don’t ever go back and finish an education.” 
But those who do get a degree could, census data show, expect a nearly $20,000 a year value over that of someone with a high school degree. 
Exposure: This isn’t included in the $120,000 figure. It’s too difficult to quantify the value of exposure that players receive via television, radio, print and the Internet and by being personalities in their respective markets. 
Matt Balvanz, director of analytics for Chicago-based Navigate Marketing, says men’s basketball players at top-100 programs — from an average member of an eight-man playing rotation to a standout on a high-profile team — can receive exposure value from $150,000 to $630,000 a season. He based those figures on the values that sponsors receive for the impressions their names or logos garner during a televised game and secondary exposure through highlights, etc. 
Former Pittsburgh and all-Big East forward Jason Matthews, who played from 1987 to 1991, is a case in point. A Los Angeles native, he figures his exposure as a collegian helped pave the way for his career as CEO of a real estate investment and consulting firm that’s based in Pittsburgh. 
Matthews figures he played 120 games during his college career, with each contest lasting two hours, and his name and face on display throughout. 
“How much does it cost Procter & Gamble to buy an ad on ESPN?” he says. “That’s how I always looked at it, the value of the TV exposure to me.” 
Old Dominion senior forward Keyon Carter sees personal exposure to local business leaders as a networking perk. Potential employers attend ODU games. 
“I try to make myself available for them, to kind of get to know them and them to know me, because those are the people that are hiring,” he says. “The general student body, they don’t get to shake hands and rub elbows with some of the people that I get to.”
Earning a scholarship to a major university to play college basketball is a right, not a privilege. That the majority of major college basketball players are Black (60 percent), and that the majority of these Black players come from homes that suffer from income inequality is precisely the reason that paying amateur athletes is even a debate. 
The NBA Draft has only two rounds consisting of thirty selections for a total of 60 players selected each year. 68 teams competed in March Madness alone this year, and each team has 12 – 14 players. That 816- 952 players playing in the NCAA Tournament that could, theoretically, vie for one of those coveted 60 NBA  Draft slots. 
Knowing how bad the unemployment rate is for young Black people with only a high school degree (even with a college degree), these Black college basketball players should be excited that their talents have enabled them to a free education. 
Considering how much debt and how few Black people actually pay back their student loans, these Black college basketball players should be excited that their talents have enabled them to a free education. 
Considering how Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) degrees are currently worth to potential employers and on the free market, these Black college basketball players should be ecstatic about the exposure they get at Predominately White Institutions (PWI), access to rich and influential alumni for potential future employment and connections, and a degree. 
Sadly, the Black graduation rate in college basketball is incredible low, probably because the Black players are more interested in potential NBA employment instead of the career an actual degree could earn them.
Black intellectuals like William Rhoden and Dr. Boyce Watkins believe that Black people are being taken advantage of by major college basketball (and football) programs and that their labor is akin to that of the slave.
As the USA Today article makes perfectly clear, these predominately Black college basketball players have opportunities presented to them that normal students attending classes could only dream of attaining. 
That Black college basketball players fail to graduate and take advantage of the name recognition they earn by representing their school and the connections they make is entirely their fault. After all, the primary reason they are attending a major university is because of their athletic ability. 
Most of the time, their academic capabilities are of secondary concern. 
College athletes should not be paid. The opportunity to earn a degree in exchange for four years of service on the basketball court is a proposition that once was viewed as payment enough.
In Black Run America (BRA), such an opportunity is viewed as discriminatory against the potential earnings of predominately Black athletes. That many Black college basketball players get paid by boosters and end up landing their college team on probation is of little concern.
College sports, like most things in BRA, cannot be reformed. They must collapse on themselves.
Telfair’s talents were able to get him to the NBA without having to go through college. His lottery selection helped enable his family to leave the ghetto. Such is not the case for most Black basketball players. 
Their athletic talents can get them to college (where they can earn a degree for free), but not to the NBA.
That they fail to earn a degree and take advantage of the many opportunities USA Today delineates is entirely their fault. But in Black Run America (BRA) any negative situation a Black person finds themselves in is anyone’s fault but their own.


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