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Colleges Athletes Can Now Eat Lobster Every Meal, Still Can’t Be Paid

A new ruling recently went into effect that allows college athletes to receive 160 million dollars in benefits on top of their regular scholarships. But, be careful not to take that to mean we’ve finally given up on the myth of “the student athlete.” We will not be paying these players anything close to a salary. It's very important, and realistic, that the star quarterback be more focused on his Midterm in Sociology than performing in this stadium:

While the athletes aren’t being paid for the millions of dollars of profit they are generating, they are getting a little money to cover incidentals and much more impressive meal options. The new rules state that schools can now spend their own money on “unlimited meals and snacks.” There are no restrictions. I am positive this will blow up in the NCAA’s face. 

As a former college athlete, I know how much the coaches care about being able to provide good food to their players. It’s literally a recruiting tool. When our program would entertain prospective athletes, we would take them out to the best meals we could afford. These were very rare events, and they were awesome. Normally they would feed us tasteless macaroni and day old fried chicken, because we had a finite food budget and the current players were way less important than the shiny new recruits.

You know who won’t have a finite food budget? The men’s basketball program at the University of Kentucky. Those guys are going to be eating like Saudi Princes on a luxury cruise. Head coach John Calipari will stop at nothing to get the best talent, so he is going to burn as much money as possible to impress incoming recruits. He will import caviar from Japan if that’s what it takes to woo a star center. Does that sound like an even playing field? I don’t think tiny little Colgate University is going to be able to compete on the imported food front.

Plus, is there anything stopping these players from taking the aforementioned caviar and selling it to another student? Sounds like a loophole waiting to happen. The NCAA is going to have to reevaluate this whole thing sooner rather than later. 

Furthermore, the little spending cash the players receive is given without a thought to how they might spend it. There is no financial planning aspect to any of this. One South Carolina receiver was interviewed after he got his first monthly “allowance” of 400 dollars. He said he was going to spend it on Xbox (NASDAQ: MSFT) games. While his honesty is pretty great, I'm not sure the NCAA is supposed to be funding video game habits. 

To make matters worse, there is no advisor letting him know that if he invested his monthly 400 dollar nut in the stock market he could start building a nice little nest egg for himself. This guy clearly likes video games and TV, so why not take some of that money and invest it in Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) and Activision (NASDAQ: ATVI) so that he can make money off of what he loves? It’s unlikely that any player will do that, showing another aspect of the NCAA that is exploitative rather than additive. 

But, let’s just keep feeding them free filet mignon and pretending that we’ve fixed the problems with college athletics.