College Athletes for Hire: The Evolution and Legacy of the NCAA's Amateur Myth

By Allen L. Sack; Ellen J. Staurowsky | Go to book overview
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Foreword

On October 26, 1974, at Legion Field in Birmingham, Alabama, I ran my last play as a Texas Christian University (TCU) football player. On fourth and long, I took a pitchout from our quarterback and tried to turn Alabama's left end. I plunged into a wall of red jerseys, hurtled through the air, and landed on my head as I had many times before.

This time, however, I broke my neck and I was left a quadriplegic. Only eleven months after my injury, I was informed by TCU that it had no insurance and was not liable for my present or future medical bills. The fact is that until the early 1990s, no scholarship athlete was, or had ever been, covered by catastrophic injury insurance despite assurances often given by many recruiters to the contrary.

Wherever American jurisdiction prevails, federal law mandates that each state must provide for some type of workers' compensation scheme. Liability is imposed on an employer because protection of workers is considered good for society. If the TCU athletic director had tripped on his way to the press box on the day of my injury and had suffered a fate similar to mine, he would have been covered by workers' compensation, as would the groundskeepers, the coaches, and the many others who run the multimillion-dollar college sport industry.

Why, then, does the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) continue to this day to put its revenue-producing athletes at risk by denying them coverage under any state workers' compensation system? My answer is that the NCAA and its member institutions have consciously fabricated a myth

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