Duke Basketball: Are Players Really Worth $1 Million?

Ro ShiellAnalyst ISeptember 13, 2011

GREENSBORO, NC - MARCH 14:  Miles Plumlee #21 and Mason Plumlee #5 of the Duke Blue Devils smile after win over the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in the championship game of the 2010 ACC Men's Basketball Tournament at the Greensboro Coliseum on March 14, 2010 in Greensboro, North Carolina.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

The argument for paying college basketball is heating up with a report written by Ramogi Huma, head of the National College Players Association, and Drexel University professor Ellen J. Staurowsky.

The report estimated that players at top-tier schools such as Duke are worth up to $1 million each. That is if the college in question shares its revenue with the players as professional sporting bodies, like the NFL, does.

Whatever the agenda of Huma and Staurowsky, this report will go a long way to determine whether college athletics remain on the amateur level. There has been a lot of debate regarding whether students-athletes deserve to be paid above their scholarship requirements or not, lately.

Previously any thought of paying college athletes would have been immediately dismissed. Especially by those who think hardship in college is part of the learning process. Young men and women becoming adults by standing on their own two feet, learning to stretch a dollar. However recently, it seems that this way of thinking is antiquated.

Some writers like Michael Wilborn advocates paying some athletes, due to the enormous amounts of money the NCAA made between themselves and television networks.

Like the $10.8 billion dollar deal between the NCAA and CBS/Turner Sports for March Madness that runs from 2011 and 2024. Or the deal between the BCS and ESPN that's worth $500 million. Wilborn thinks that a small part of all of these deals be taken off the top and invested.

Subsequently making the fund available to football and basketball players, as they are the ones that produce the higher revenues.

Huma and Staurowsk's report had a similar idea that all student-athletes would benefit from. Only they wanted to put the money into an "educational lockbox" players could later use to finish their studies if their eligibility has expired before they finished their education.

Some other writers, like Ivan Maisel, thinks only the full cost of attending college for the athlete should  be met. This includes tuition, fees, room, board, books, personal expenses and travel home.

Huma's report takes it a step further and says that the athletes should be able to pursue endorsement opportunities to supplement their income. With part of that endorsement fee being paid into the educational lockbox and the balance being made available to the athlete for immediate use.

With all these thoughts it is not difficult to see the writing on the wall. One day soon, the top recruits will  make their college choice, not on the best opportunity to play or even for academic reasons, but more like who can provide the most benefits, legally.

We are getting closer to the day student-athletes will make millions in college without the danger of vacated wins or a program being given the death sentence by the NCAA.

Will the game be the same, maybe. I am not sure if Mike Krzyzewski will receive the same level of respect that he currently does, if a player like Austin Rivers was being paid on the same level as him.

If college basketball starts paying its players it will immediately be in full competition with the NBA. History has shown that two major professional basketball leagues will struggle to coexist. Look how the ABA fell to one side. The NDBL is struggling as a minor league. Even the WNBA can't make it without the support of the NBA.

College basketball will do well to remain on the amateur level. Though athletes should be made comfortable in college especially if they do indeed spend 39 hours a week in athletic time commitment. It is not a stretch to ask that all living expenses should be met.