Simply stop the sham and pay the players says the Cato Institute’s Ilya Shapiro. Shapiro is a senior fellow in Constitutional Studies at Cato, and believes that simply paying college players would be better than sticking them in the money generating scheme they endure today. The players are the talent. Ignoring that will only lead to more scandal later. Shapiro writes:
At this point, the legal process is beside the point: the cases will drag on as the defendants argue they didn’t “intend” to do anything wrong and that the statutes are too vague, while the prosecution gets unindicted co-conspirators to roll over and solidify its allegations. If anything ever gets to a jury—likely not; these things tend to plead out—I’m rooting for nullification, because I don’t want to my taxes paying to imprison these non-menaces to society.
Some will agree that this mess and others like it buttress the argument, gaining steam with each passing year, that the NCAA should simply allow players to be paid. There’s more than enough money to go around, so why not give some to the kids who generate it? Among other benefits, in this woke era it wouldn’t hurt to cure some socioeconomic injustice—most of the players are poor and black, and they get nothing if they don’t make the pros (like most don’t)—while allowing the free market to flourish. It would eliminate the hypocrisy that a Duke-Carolina game is no different than Princeton-Rutgers a century ago.
It’s not a bad argument, but it doesn’t go nearly far enough. Basketball and football—the so-called “revenue sports,” although relatively few programs turn a profit—should simply be spun off into their own minor leagues. As with hockey and baseball, you could still have college teams, but nearly all serious professional prospects would come through the minor-league system.
The Olympics are a lot better off for having thrown off their pretense of amateurism, and so would be collegiate basketball and football. Then the NCAA could go back to regulating true amateur sports—and the FBI could focus on terrorist cells, Russian hackers, and real Wall Street criminals.
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