For the second time in my career, I had the privilege of calling the Elite Eight for the NCAA Men’s Division II National Championship. It is one of the greatest days in all of college basketball. The goal is to get there, and when it tips off, anything can happen. Here is a recap of the day:
What was interesting to me was that these games came on the same day that the Northwestern athletes took one step closer to unionizing. While I think dialogue about stronger medical benefits for college athletes needs to be advanced, this outpouring of criticism on behalf of “exploited” student athletes is mystifying to me. That it comes from Northwestern students is somewhat laughable. An institution whose annual tuition and costs are well above $50,000, meaning that scholarship athletes could get more than 200K worth of value for their athletic services. Not to mention a degree that most of them would never obtain without being good at sports.
I thought about this all while watching D2 athletes shed blood, sweat and tears on a court simply for the love of the game. There will be no pro contract. There were less than 1,000 people in the gym. Yet, they had an incredible championship experience representing their school. An experience, I might add, that was afforded to them because of the money the NCAA is making on its few profitable entities. Does that make the whole system right? I think that is up for debate. But, when I hear people bash the NCAA, I wish they could have sat next to me during that D2 Elite Eight and see where much of the money is going. Those players trying to win a championship may be at risk if we head down a path where we ‘share the wealth’ with those football and basketball players and the D1 level.