WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — The Final Four kicks off this weekend. Teams will battle it out on the basketball court for a chance to compete for the NCAA National Championship.
While the NCAA collects millions for TV rights and sponsorships, the stars of the show are virtually playing for free. Because of that, a Democratic lawmaker from Connecticut is calling on the NCAA to compensate student-athletes, saying the current situation “morally unjust.”
“It’s a civil rights issue,” Sen. Chris Murphy said. “These are kids who are playing football and basketball who are employees in every sense of the word who are making money for adults and not getting any of the billions of dollars.”
Murphy says it’s time for the NCAA to look at ways to fairly compensate its athletes and if it doesn’t, then Congress may have to step in.
“The NCAA says, ‘aw, it’s too confusing to figure out who we’d pay and who we wouldn’t pay.’ Well, it is confusing, but the existing system of how you make sure all the adults get paid is super confusing too, so just try,” he said.
Murphy admits he doesn’t have a solution to fix this but plans to continue to spotlight the issue in series of reports called ‘Madness Inc: How Everyone is Getting Rich Off College Sports – Except the Players.’
In the meantime, some argue the education and benefits students already receive is enough.
“Every year around the Final Four there’s always a big push about this,” said Lisa Delpy Neirotti, a professor of sports management at George Washington University.
“On top of their scholarships, they receive room and board, they receive a stipend, they also receive tutoring,” she added.
Neirotti says once you add the value of all that up, the athletes are already doing pretty well.