the church of NCAA

U.S. Rep. Bill Thomas (R-Bakersfield) is questioning whether the NCAA, with its $521.1-million annual budget and lucrative television rights package, deserves its tax-exempt status.In a pointed, eight-page letter sent Monday to NCAA President Myles Brand, Thomas suggested that big-time athletic programs might be at odds with the purpose of higher education and might not qualify for tax-exempt status.

This year, Gary Roberts, director of the Tulane University Sports Law program and the school’s NCAA representative, described the political power of college sports as “unbelievable” and football and basketball as “a religion” among many fans.,1,5833729.story

quotes below are from

“Why should the federal government subsidize the athletic activities of educational institutions when that subsidy is being used to help pay for escalating coaches’ salaries, costly chartered travel, and state-of-the-art athletic facilities?”

What benefit does the NCAA provide taxpayers in exchange for its tax exemption?

Is added educational benefit derived from participation in expensive Division I-A sports, particularly football and men’s basketball, as compared to sports in other divisions or intramural athletics?

How has the transformation of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament into “commercial entertainment” (a reference to CBS’s agreement to pay the NCAA an average of $545-million per year for broadcasting rights) furthered the educational purpose of the NCAA and its member institutions?

What percentage of NCAA revenue is spent by member institutions on solely academic matters?

The letter is strongly worded. For example, Representative Thomas writes that “corporate sponsorships, multimillion-dollar television deals, highly paid coaches with no academic duties, and the dedication of inordinate amounts of time by athletes to training lead many to believe that major college football and men’s basketball more closely resemble professional sports than amateur sports.”


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