Rick Pitino can tell you college basketball is a professional sports business.
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s Commission of College Basketball has released a 60 page report with suggestions on how to clean up industry corruption. There were ideas about allowing players not drafted into the NBA to return to school and some vague notion of how the NCAA should keep coaches away from agents and sneaker companies in the summer although that should be extended down to the junior high school level when sneaker companies start recruiting sixth, seventh and eighth graders.
But there was another part of the report that suggests Rice and the others on the commission fail to understand that college sports is a professional endeavor. The commission wants college sports to continue to be an amateur event. “The goal should not be to turn college basketball into another professional league,” the authors of the report stated. But that is wrong. It is a business, an interstate business with college athletic directors looking for every avenue to make money. The NCAA Final Four is a moneymaking effort from getting local sports committees and cities to put up guarantees of millions upon millions of dollars for the event in a bidding process to deals with TV networks that bring in billions to multimillion dollars coming in from marketing partners to coaches getting paid millions. Everyone around the college basketball industry is paid from the arena staff to the TV and radio crews handing the games to the bus drivers who pick up players from the airport to the people employed by colleges and the NCAA who seek out marketing partners to the NCAA people who negotiate the early rounds and Final Foul venue deals. This is a professional business. There is no hint of amateurism except for not paying the players. Some college coaches at public institutions are the highest paid civil employee in their states. The commission got it wrong, college basketball is a professional sports league.
The NCAA is all business.