December 7, 2022
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ColumnsThe Tuck Rule

March Madness tournament exploits Division I athletes

March Madness is one of the most exciting times of the year, and with the downtothewire moments and Cinderella stories, it’s hard not to want to ditch responsibilities and sit on the couch all day watching games.

But as you watch these games, remember two key things. First of all, these are just young adults. As you scream at them for missing a key shot, know that they are technically your peers, and in many cases, just a year or two removed from high school.

Secondly, remember they are getting absolutely nothing out of it. The NCAA puts on March Madness every year, and every year it is consistently their biggest money maker. Everyone else working the tournament leaves the tournament with a big pile of casheveryone that is, except for the players who make the tournament what it is.

As part of their contracts, coaches get bonuses that make them some of the highest-paid employees in the country. Last year, University of North Carolina coach Roy Williams made $25,000 just for making the tournament, $100,000 for making it to the second round, $150,000 for making it to the Sweet 16, $200,000 for the elite eight, another $200,000 for final four and an additional $250,000 for winning the national championship. With a base salary of $2,182,986 and additional bonuses earned throughout the year, Williams finished the season with $3,182,986.  His players, the people who did the work that earned him all of that money, leave the tournament emptyhanded.

Yes, the players get full scholarships and the chance to play in front of millions. But is that enough? Don’t forget they are missing class to compete in this tournament, in addition to all of the classes they already missed throughout the year. So even though they are getting a full ride, they are unlikely to earn the full benefit out of it without going to class.

There are so many problems with the NCAA and college basketball, and the FBI investigation that has engulfed college basketball this year proves that the system is off. But it also proves that teams are going to continue to do what they want to do regardless of the rules, since most of them have been able to get away with it for some time now.

The NCAA is corrupt, and everyone knows it, yet everyone continues to watch. But why would the NCAA change if they continue to make money? Any logical business would likely do the same.

It’s hard to say what the right solution is, but this system will not last forever the way it is currently set up. Eventually, there will be a movement that takes down the hierarchy, and the NCAA will be sorry that it took advantage of its players for so long.

Danielle Allentuck can be reached at or via Twitter: @d_allentuck