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Jack Ford Creates Dialogue About Student-Athlete Wages

Jack Ford Athlete Wages 1The University hosted a lecture by television news personality Jack Ford in Anacon Hall that was designed as an open dialogue regarding the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the controversy regarding student athlete wages on Wednesday, April 5.

Ford began the lecture talking about his background. He and his three siblings were raised by a single mother, as their father abandoned the family when Ford was five years of age. Shortly thereafter, Ford moved into the attic of his grandparents’ home in Jersey City that had no air conditioning. However, his mother was steadfast in her commitment to youth athletics, and Ford excelled at football.  Eventually, he received a scholarship to play at Yale University, then received a law degree from Fordham Univer-sity.

Being a former college athlete himself, Ford discussed the recent NCAA college basketball tournament and his thoughts concern-ing the organizations reception.

“After the championship game when Jim Nantz (sportscaster) comes over and takes the microphone, with all the players and coaches and you have this big celebration. But as soon as Jim says ‘I want to introduce from the NCAA,’ boos took over,” said Ford. “In the midst of all this great joy and celebration, there is still these boos cascading from the rafters for the NCAA. The one overarch-ing factor for this is money. It is the fact of money. In many instances, it is the fallacy of money. But it is always hovering above college sports.”

Ford presented staggering statistics regarding the academic success of college athletes. Graduation rates for Division 1 student-athletes within the six-year window the government utilizes is 86 percent, whereas the figure is 65 percent for non-athletes. At MU, almost 94 percent of student-athletes are graduating in four years.

Jack Ford Athlete Wages 2Ford then opened the lecture to the audience, and asked if student athletes should be paid. Dissenters concluded that athletes should indeed be paid, as one audience member noted their current relationship to the NCAA is kin to slavery.

But not all agree with the notion that student-athletes are tools that drive a billion dollar industry.

“I kind of find it insulting to call me a slave. I’m a walk-on here on the track team and I have been given an incredible opportuni-ty to run and be supportive by a training staff who really cares about me,” said Jake Howell, a junior accounting student and a dis-tance runner on the men’s track team. “The facilities that I have to take advantage of to do something I love, that’s my choice. It’s like if I go out to do volunteer work. I’m not a slave, I am doing something I want to do and people are allowing me to do that. I am appreciative to the NCAA and Monmouth University for that opportunity. I think calling me a slave kind of demeans my own free-dom to choose to do something I love.”

Ford raised a number of paradoxes for the audience to solve. He inquired whether soccer players, who primarily bring low reve-nue, should be paid the same as high revenue sports such as football and basketball.

[Additional professor quote]

Rachel Ross, a junior health studies student and forward on the women’s soccer team, noted that a payment method should be instated, as people underestimate the amount of time and energy players put into their sport. Between training, rehab, recovery, and class, it is difficult to manage these factors.

“It’s like where do you find the time to fit in that stuff, school work, and have a job at the same time and also have enough sleep during the night to be able to be able to perform well,” said Ross.

Ford, who primarily lectured through the vehicle of open discussion, sought to gauge the crowd’s opinion on coach pay. For ex-ample, Nick Saban, the head football coach for the University of Alabama, makes $7 million per year, while professors do not make 1/30 of such a salary.

Albert Shalom, a junior political science student, said that there is a clear flaw in the attribution of resources. The revenue from sports should not go solely to the coach; rather it should be allocated among various important aspects of the university.

Dr. Janice Stapley, an associate professor of psychology, said that coaches should not be paid such astronomical salaries, as pro-fessors actually produce a lot of the intellectual talent that derives from the University’s academics.

Ford proceeded to break down the allocation of NCAA revenue. Of the $900 million accrued, about $45 million goes to paying salaries and operations for the NCAA. Another $45 million or so goes to costs that are needed to put together the business, while the remaining $810 million goes directly back to the colleges and universities.

“There’s a distribution of about $200 billion that just came out from the NCAA. It goes to colleges and universities based upon their scholarship levels,” said Ford. “Monmouth University got about $500 thousand, not for coaches’ salaries or facilities. That is for the student-athletes. When we say there’s all this money out there, and the athletes don’t get their share, the reality is that they do, just not in a traditional way.”

Thus, the debate of college athletic salary is a curious paradox, and universities are beginning to discuss 

 photo taken by John Sorce

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