Nick Saban’s Contract Is Right On Time

By Dr. Boyce Watkins
Updated: January 7, 2007

NEW YORK–Good. I am glad they did it. Finally, the NCAA has embarrassed itself at just the right time. The goofy hillbillies running the coaching turnstile at Alabama, in their perpetual effort to find a way to regain lost glory, blinged out their latest coach, Nick Saban (roughly $32M over 8 years), so much that Congress is starting to take notice.

Thank God.

As a professor at several universities with big time athletics programs, I have always been sickened by the way academics has taken a back seat to making money on TV.

I am a Finance Professor, so I love money as much as anyone else. But I also know that money can turn a pastor into a demon, a professor into a pimp, and a university into a sweatshop.

Last year, a lawmaker questioned whether or not corporate interests have turned universities away from their academic mission. In a letter to the congressman, NCAA president Myles Brand wrote that the salaries of college coaches are “commensurate with other highly paid and highly recruited faculty and staff.”

Wow. That was officially, without question, the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.

After hearing his “profound” statement, I wanted to say to Dr. Brand “Dude, you have a PhD. Can’t you come up with anything better than THAT?” Brand is definitely not earning his mega salary, as every good pimp knows that solid, two-faced public relations is critical to “keeping your hoes in check”.

OK, I’ll stop being silly. But I can’t help it. The hypocrisy of the NCAA is so daunting that you can only laugh to keep from killing someone. Esteemed academics have turned themselves into laughing stocks, absolute clowns in front of the entire world.

Their quest for riches is not as problematic as the fact that they are simultaneously forced to explain why the athletes should not get a serious cut of the money.

They remind me of the dirty pastor explaining why “the lawud” wants you to give him an extra $500, or Anna Nicole Smith explaining how she truly loved the 90 year old billionaire to whom she was married.

While coaches are continuously fired for not winning games, they are almost never fired for not graduating their players. In fact, a coach with a high graduation rate and low winning percentage is more likely to be fired than one who wins games and doesn’t graduate anyone.

Does this sound like an academic mission to you? Me neither.

As I watch my alma mater (Ohio State) play in the national championship (with 18 corporate sponsors paying millions for their ads) on January 8 (the date chosen so that the event can replace the revenue generated by Monday Night Football), I congratulate both teams (who will receive roughly $18 million dollars each for simply participating).

I will watch the game with anticipation (along with the thousands of people in the stadium who paid hundreds of dollars for their tickets), to see the great Troy Smith (who is not going to be compensated). If this is not a great amateur experience, I don’t know what is.

Ohio State guard T.J. Downing said. “We’re the reason this money’s coming in. We’re the guys out there sacrificing our bodies. We’re taking years off our lives out here hitting each other, and we’re not being compensated for it.”

Given that I once taught at Ohio State, I am proud that my former students have been trained to know when they are being screwed. There is nothing wrong selling a product, but you should at least be consistent and fair in the process.

Professional coaching contracts in an allegedly amateur sports league makes as much sense as The Michael Jackson, R. Kelly Child Sitting Service.

And i’m not buying either one.