Quote Originally Posted by Mike Krzyzewski
I'm glad it was passed because it pushes the envelope a little; it pushes the issue. But, I don't want to answer for that. I'd like to see. OK, let's take a look at all the things that need to be done. Will we do them? How can we do them?"
Coach K may support this California statute, which specifies direct payments to student-athletes for merchandise sales that feature their names, images or likenesses. However, he constantly hedged his support by openly admitting that he "doesn't have all the answers." Frankly, he looked both weak and presumptive in his press conference. A person does not responsibly voice support for something that at the same time he admits he doesn't appreciate the full impact. There is a second reality that bears directly on K in all this. His school enjoys one of the richest endowments in American academia. Most other schools don't have the financial resources to pay players for such sales, and yet also desperately need those merchandise sales to make ends meet.

Lost in most all of the media's focus on this story is the cost of a full ride scholarship, which most collegiate athletes play without. Not only do a few football and basketball players never benefit from a full scholarship, nearly all athletes in other sports can only hope to earn a partial scholarship. The cost of an academic degree has exploded over the last three decades, well beyond the annual cost of living, and now the price of that education is so inflated that without students going into tens of thousands of dollars of debt, they cannot earn a degree. Consequently, these athletic scholarships are not trivial compensations, but are instead quite valuable instruments.

In my view, all of this reality bears considerably on the idea of paying collegiate athletes. Unlike Coach K, who's supposed to know the issue more than most people, many are willing to make the case right now. And that case is that most athletic departments are barely hanging on. The real ugly truth is that these often lavish college endowments are strictly removed from the reaches of the athletic departments, and frankly most of those vast dollars sit year after year as an idle cash pile, earning interest and dividends. Due to the highly organized effort of seeking donations from rich alumni, many universities have become vast reserves of huge idle cash. Some schools sit on more than a billion US dollars in mostly idle endowments!

However, these schools require that the athletic departments self-fund their operations. This has created the booster organizations which provide the lion's share of revenues used to fund athletic scholarships. Any funds used to pay athletes additional monies would not likely come from these huge endowments (for the schools who have them) but instead come from the athletic department budgets, boosted by the various associations of private donors.

Contrary to popular opinion, the vast majority of these boosters are not millionaires, but instead middle class people. And for them, this money is a significant donation.

Given all this, my personal view is that the athletes most likely to benefit from this "Fair Pay Act," are those who already earn full ride scholarships, and who are quite likely to spend their year or so in college training for professional sports contracts. Frankly, they need the money a lot less than most collegiate athletes who do not receive athletic scholarships of any type, and who's likenesses and names are not marketable in any way or form. Equally frankly, Coach K should be perfectly aware of all of this, and his cowardice to publicly support the new state law, while also fawning ignorance of these other issues, is both disappointing and frankly self-serving. And I think all of us deserve much better from a man of Coach K's experience and public impact.

Ken Stallings
Owner, Wolfpack Forums