Unpaid Professionals: Commercialism and Conflict in Big-Time College Sports

By Andrew Zimbalist | Go to book overview

CHAPTER ONE
Introduction

A college racing stable makes as much sense as college football. The jockey could carry the college colors; the students could cheer; the alumni could bet; and the horse wouldn't have to pass a history test.

—Robert Hutchins, former president of the University of Chicago

According to legend, Haverford College's baseball team had just been clobbered by Villanova in the first game of a doubleheader. Prior to the second game, Haverford's coach gave the team a pep talk which provoked an animated exhortation from one of the Haverford players: “Let's take the field and do what we do best—study!” Not long into the second game, Villanova's shortstop hit a three-run homer, inducing Haverford students in the stands to chant: “That's all right, that's okay, you'll be working for us some day.”

ON PAGE ONE of the 1997–98 NCAA Manual the basic purpose of the National Collegiate Athletic Association is written: “to maintain intercollegiate athletics as an integral part of the educational program and the athlete as an integral part of the student body and, by doing so, retain a clear line of demarcation between intercollegiate athletics and professional sports.” Some may wonder whom do they think they are kidding.

In December 1996, Notre Dame was playing its final regular season football game against the University of Southern California. The Notre Dame placekicker missed an extra point at the end of the fourth quarter and the game went into overtime where Notre Dame lost, 27–21. The loss quashed Notre Dame's bid to go to an Alliance Bowl game, which would have been worth $8 million to the school. The Fighting Irish turned down an invitation to the $800,000 Independence Bowl. The placekicker blew an $8 million extra point! 1

Notre Dame has a 7-year, $45 million contract with NBC to televise its regular season football games. The major conferences have a $700 million, 7-year contract with ABC to televise the bowl championship

-3-

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