by Dr. Boyce Watkins
The NCAA just got a bit richer this year, signing a new contract with CBS Sports and Turner Sports for $10.8 billion dollars over 14 years. This contract is a 41% increase over the mammoth deal they originally signed back in 2001. They are also going to expand their tournament field to 68 teams, from the original 65. This is not the total annual revenue for the league. Instead, it simply represents the television rights to air March Madness each year.
The league also has a $55 million dollar, three-year contract with ESPN for the womens basketball tournament and 21 other NCAA championships. Beyond that, the league is also attempting to sell the rights to 60 other national national championships. To make a long story short, the NCAA is making money hand over fist and it's all because they have the biggest, baddest, most entertaining product that "hoods" across America can produce.
As a Finance scholar and businessman, when I hear that someone is working to "sell" something and get money in return, I think about free enterprise and capitalism. I think about the fact that someone (that someone being the NCAA) is working overtime to ensure that they get fair market value for the product they are offering to the world. These ideas of free enterprise also translate to college basketball coaches, many of whom earn as much as $4 million dollars per year, with salaries on par with NBA coaches. In fact, the NCAA earns more money during its post-season tournament than the NFL, NBA and Major League baseball. These are all the symptoms of a professional sports league, and some argue that college athletes should be paid for their work.