Of course, Emmert had reason to be a semantic stickler. Amateurism still rules the day. It has to. Players cannot be paid for their athletic labor. Or
be viewed as such. Otherwise, they might qualify for workman's comp. Or be allowed to collectively bargain. The Internal Revenue Service might take
another look at the tax-exempt status of university athletic departments. College sports as currently constituted likely would implode.
Still, the proposed $2,000 non-payment payment does little to alleviate the NCAA's existing unfairness.
Under the new system, a college athlete would earn an additional $38 a week—about $5.50 a day, good for a gallon-plus of gas, or something extra
foamy and calorie-riffic at Starbucks. Meanwhile, coaching salaries are in the millions, assistant coaching salaries are following suit, and Emmert refused to
disclose his salary when asked on camera by PBS' Frontline. In addition, the Knight Commission reported that the average annual football
television revenue for the five Bowl Championship Series conferences is roughly $1.1 billion—slightly higher than that of the National Basketball
Association; about two times that of Major League Baseball; five times that of the National Hockey League—while the total, multi-year value of the
BCS conferences' existing broadcast deals is a staggering $13.8 billion.
Plug those same conferences into the United Nations, a commission member said, and they would have the world's 110th largest GDP.
Next, academics. Emmert said he wanted college athletes to be "students who happen to be athletes, and not the other way around." A noble goal,
perhaps. Thing is, a group of affiliated institutions as diverse as the NCAA can only really set an academic lowest common denominator—not every
athletic department can be Stanford, any more than every engineering school can be MIT. And the only way the governing body can try to enforce said
denominator is to set up a punitive incentive system that links academic failure to athletic punishment. Emmert claimed that under new proposed
academic requirements, seven teams that played in last year's men's Division I basketball tournament—including national champion Connecticut—would
not have been allowed to participate due to subpar classroom performance, which would lead to losing a combined $2 million in revenue.
"Imagine a coach whose team is competing extremely well," Emmert said. "They have to walk in to his or her president, athletic director or team and
say, 'I know we're playing well, but you can't play in postseason because you didn't study enough.'"
The NCAA's fiddling places the academic onus squarely where it doesn't belong- on athletic administrators and coaches, rather than on professors. The
result? A system where there's arguably more—not less—incentive to cheat in the classroom, and where the overwhelming desire to win, win big, and
collect lavish television payouts means athletes are in turn lavished with academic tutors and study facilities unavailable to the average,
non-touchdown-producing student. According to the Knight Commission, per-athlete spending by Division I football schools jumped 50 percent from 2005 to
2009, while per-student spending over the same time period rose just 22 percent. In 2009, the median spending per athlete in the Southeastern
Conference was $156,833—11.6 times the median $13,471 spent per student.