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College Sports Are Too Broke To Pay Athletes, But Not A 10th Assistant Football Coach

The NCAA and its member schools say they can't afford to pay athletes, but magically, they've found money for additional football coaches.

by Kevin Trahan
Jan 12 2017, 5:14pm

College athletic departments' biggest argument in their fight against paying players is the claim that they simply don't make enough money to afford it. According to the National Collegiate Athletic Association, all but 20 Football Bowl Subdivision schools operate at a loss. They're "broke," you see, because even though many bring in over $100 million per year—and have enjoyed rising revenues due to hefty broadcast deals—all that cash is spent on absolute academic necessities, like tackling sleds and waterfalls. As such, there are no additional funds to be found in their budgets. That's just basic math.

But now, miraculously, more money has appeared! The American Football Coaches Association has unanimously voted to allow schools to add a 10th assistant coach to their football staffs, and the measure is expected to be fully approved.

As of 2012, the average FBS assistant coach made $200,000 per year, and that number is expected to continue to rise rapidly as schools welcome those aforementioned massive payments from television contracts.

Now, as you have probably noticed, $200,000 is a lot of money. Schools could use that amount of money to pay their scholarship football players $2,353 per year, each. Instead, that money will go to yet another coach, and so contribute to the rising, unnecessary expenses that schools and the NCAA will use to justify the assertion that they simply can't afford to give athletes a bigger slice of the pie.

None of this is new. The Big Ten, for instance, is expected to see a per-school revenue increase of at least $50 million from a decade ago. Yet rather than share an equitable portion of that wealth with college sports' on-field labor force—and in leagues with unions and collective bargaining, athletes generally receive about 50 percent of total revenues—schools just find new ways to reward themselves. Michigan increased athletic department hiring by 32 percent and raised everyone's salaries. Alabama has hired "analysts," who aren't technically coaches, but help strategize. Iowa is spending $90 million on a stadium renovation, largely without donor help, so at least college athletes are helping Make America Great Again by subsidizing construction workers in the midwest, even if their own work isn't recognized or compensated as such.

Schools have plenty of money, and they are bringing in even more every year. In a way, it's hard to fault athletic bureaucrats for giving themselves raises, because they're just doing their jobs as those jobs have come to be understood, which is spending that money as fast as possible, the better to pretend it doesn't exist. That's how a 10th assistant coach can get paid, but an athlete can't.