Former player: NCAA has “a long way to go” in athlete rights

photo courtesy Bob DeMars
2 Comments

We reported yesterday on a possible rule change being considered by the NCAA. Per John Infante of College Sports Scholarships, the governing body may waive limits on meal money and clothing allowances for student athletes, in essence clearing the way for athletic departments to assist athletes with living expenses that were previously seriously curtailed.

(Read: Is the NCAA close to handing out ‘stipends’ through an alternative method?)

I consulted filmmaker and former USC football player Bob DeMars for an opinion on these measures. DeMars is currently raising funds for his documentary “The Business of Amateurs”, which will take a look at the physical price college athletes pay to participate in sports, as well as the financial benefits colleges can reap from the system of amateurism. DeMars says college basketball fans had a close-up look at the dangers of NCAA play when Louisville’s Kevin Ware was injured on national television last March.

(Read: Kevin Ware takes to Twitter to talk recovery)

According to a report by the National College Players Association (NCPA) and Drexler University, the average basketball player is worth over a million dollars during their college career and a football player is worth $500,000, even after the value of their education is subtracted. Addressing CBT via email, DeMars gave the NCAA credit for starting to look at those numbers in light of yesterday’s report.

I took a look at the article and thought it was interesting.  It’s a step in the right direction, but there is still a long way to go.  The average student athlete incurs over $3,000 in debt every year just to live and get by; this would help alleviate that stress, especially for low-income families of student athletes.
Think about this:  the average stipend of the college football player has increased along with the rate of inflation for the past 30 years; however, coaches salaries have skyrocketed at an exponential rate.   A coach gets a $2 million bonus option in his contract and nobody bats an eye, but try to give the student/athlete enough money to live on and it’s a controversy.
DeMars knows whereof he speaks. A former USC football player under Pete Carroll, he still battles knee and neck injuries suffered over a decade ago.
“I think we are a long way from discussing paying players,” DeMars cautioned. “However, players’ rights is something many can agree on.”

Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.