Millionaire Coaches, Billion-Dollar TV Contracts and Zip for the Players

Basketball, football and baseball have the lowest graduation rates of any college sport, according to the NCAA.

The men's sport with the highest average in 2003-04 was gymnastics, followed by ice hockey, skiing, swimming and diving, fencing, lacrosse and golf.

Some top coaches can make $2 million to $5 million a year, Zimbalist said, when salary and sponsorship fees are included.

Zimbalist said that coaches in the NCAA could make as much as someone coaching professionals in the NBA even though the college team might only have a tenth of the revenue of the professional team.

"It doesn't make economic sense, but the reason it happens is because the players aren't getting paid," he said. "So the coaches basically are getting paid to coach plus they're getting paid for recruiting the players. They're getting paid for what the players do. It's a very unjust economic system. It's a crazy economic system, but it's what we have."

Roger Noll, an economics professor emeritus at Stanford University and a former college basketball player, said because the players weren't paid there was plenty of cash to flow to the coaches.

"When a coach comes to a school, he comes with not only his salary and benefits from the school but he comes with a package of other stuff that has been promised to him by others," Noll said.

In many towns, that includes things like a job hosting a weekly television show. Additionally there are clubs that will buy a house and a car for the coach.

"If you have a booster club that gave an apartment or a car to a player, that would be enough to get you thrown out of the NCAA," Noll said. "But if you have exactly the same booster club doing it for the coach, that's fine."

So what do the players get out of this?

"They get free shoes," said Noll who played for CalTech from 1958 to 1962. "When I played in college, I had to buy my own shoes. That's it. They get free shoes."

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