Racism, Exploitation, and Worse

April 9, 2008

Perhaps it is a good thing that the Rutgers men’s basketball team is the worst in the Big East and that the football team is mired in mediocrity. That’s because the evidence mounts that bigtime college sports ruthlessly exploit the players (often minorities), for the benefit of the universities and the (primarily white) boosters. In the News & Tribune, basketball coach Lou Lefevre calls the NCAA the National Conspiracy Against Athletes and, in a recent column, he writes: “There is no other American entity that even approaches the unconstitutional exploitation that occurs with these college athletes.”

At the crux of Lefevre’s upset is the NCAA rule that athletes cannot receive monetary rewards (other than tuition, room, board), whilst successful sports programs — think Notre Dame, Kansas basketball, USC — are awash in riches. Lefevre writes: “This restriction [against pay for athletes] is as discriminatory as not allowing certain races or religions to vote or own property. Nothing can be more un-American than restricting a person’s ability to benefit from the actions of their hard work and ability.”

Read Lefevre’s hard-hitting column.

Then think about how Greg Schiano went from one of the lower-paid coaches in the Big East to the highest-paid state employee in New Jersey.

We hold to our position that Rutgers boosters should stop wearing red to the game and go for white instead.

Are bigtime college sports racist?

April 8, 2008

That question brings to mind other, notorious toughies like is the Pope Catholic, does Communist China trample human rights, is Dick McCormick a do-nothing university president?

“You basically have a massive wealth transfer from a smallish number of football and basketball players — a significant percentage of whom are racial minorities, and a significant percentage of whom are poor — to a group of nonrevenue sport athletes, male and female, who are disproportionately white and middle or upper-middle class,” says Penn State law professor Stephen F. Ross in a provocative Detroit Free Press story about the absolute unfairness of college sports.

As Freep columnist Michael Rosenberg asks:

“Why can schools make millions off their football and basketball players without paying them?

Because that is the only way they can make millions off them.”

It’s a good piece, read it. A Ray Rice is exploited so that a Greg Schiano — with a lifetime losing record coaching a team that is charitably called mediocre — can earn a staggering $1.8 million, making him New Jersey’s highest paid public employee.

Maybe the Rutgers boosters should turn in their red shirts for white sheets.

It might be more truthful packaging.