Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Barry Alvarez and the Art of Hypocrisy

This past week, California signed into law a bill that would allow college athletes to earn money off their likeness. This means getting paid for endorsements. This bill had been in the world for months and despite dire warnings from the NCAA and Pac-12, the billed passed with bipartisan support. When asked about it, the gelatinous pile of ooze, used car salesman Barry Alvarez responded he’d quit scheduling California schools. Methinks he’d happily take Rose Bowl money, but we’ll get to that. Not surprisingly, many Badger fans outside of those close to the university in Madison or recent alums became apoplectic at the idea college athletes could get paid to endorse products or get paid for their autographs.  The horror.

Laughably, the concern is certain schools will get all the best players because of this or shoe companies will funnel kids to schools of their choice. Basically, the status quo would remain and we’d know who was getting paid what and for what.

Since 2000, only two schools have been first time NCAA basketball champions. They were Florida and Virginia. Virginia has  longer history of basketball success and Florida had been in Final 4’s before as well. There is less parity in football. We haven’t had a first time national champion once this century, real or mythical. Major college athletics are top heavy.

The larger point is the absurdity of the idea of amateurism. King Barry said this would end amateurism. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel from 4-27-18, King Barry saw his yearly salary get approved to be 1.175 million dollars, including a $375,000 yearly bonus. In the same article, it was reported Badger football assistant coaches Jim Leonhard and Joe Rudolph saw their salaries increase to $966,660 and $775,000 respectively. That’s quite the salary to coach amateurs.

King Barry also replaced his men’s hockey coach and women’s basketball coaches in the last few years as well. Former hockey coach Mike Eaves was making roughly $260,000 a year. His replacement, Tony Granato has a yearly salary of $537,400, doubling his predecessor. Bobbie Kelsey was making $300,000 to coach women’s basketball. Her replacement, Jonathan Tsipis got double that salary. The extra dough for coaches hasn’t equates to greater success on the court.

The requested budget for the Athletic Department is $159.4 million for 2019-20 according to an article from The Wisconsin State Journal from 2-14-19. It would be approved. That’s a 61% increase from 5 years ago.

From the same article, it was reported Wisconsin received $44 million from the Big Ten TV deals, $41 million in gift funds and $52 million in ticket sales. A study reported in the Wisconsin State Journal from 9-14-19 shows an economic impact from UW-Madison sports at roughly $610 million for the state of Wisconsin.

Amateurism in college sports, huh? That sham hasn’t been true for decades. Many other states have similar legislation pending with large bipartisan support. The dam is broke wide open. College athletes are going to be able to earn off their skills. Don’t cry for the schools or NCAA. They long ago abandoned any Joe College ideal that they purport to protect when they sold their souls for every nickel they could make. This isn’t the end of college sports but a beginning of something that should have happened decades ago, the athletes generating the revenue, getting a piece of the pie.

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