Frank Deford, who I go hot and cold on (he's on NPR Morning Edition once a week), published this editorial at Sports Illustrated online on the recent increase in attention to coaching salaries.
The gist of it: stop pretending revenue-generating collegiate sports such as men's basketball and football have anything at all to do with education. Like professional sports, Deford argues, these are for entertainment value and the market should determine coaching salaries.
I have a healthy amount of skepticism about being able to reform any patriarchal, capitalist system from within and this applies to intercollegiate athletics as well. But Deford's "solution" about separating them out of athletic departments and creating a "department of entertainment" is not the kind of radical system overhaul that I can really get behind. It is a facetious one I realize, but one that just allows Deford to say "stop whining about these salaries" without proffering any kind of solution.
Because if you really "divorce" these particular collegiate sports from actual education then they shouldn't exist at all. No more men's college basketball and football--at least at the Div 1 level. I am actually more behind this solution than Deford's. So many more student-athletes in non-revenue generating sports would benefit from this arrangement.
Because if it's really entertainment and you pay the coaches in relation to their entertainment value, then the athletes can't be students and you have to start paying them too.
Ohio State receiver Anthony Gonzalez touched on this issue earlier this month when he said college athletes are being exploited and should be paid for their work. He is not entirely wrong when one looks at the current state of collegiate football. But instead of making changes that make collegiate sports less collegiate-like maybe we should try to rein it back in.