Money and March Madness

Interview Mark Emmert

Mark Emmert

Emmert is the president of the NCAA. Before starting the job in November 2010, he was president of the University of Washington and chancellor at Louisiana State University. This is the edited transcript of an interview conducted on Feb. 14, 2011.

What is the NCAA? How big is it? Who belongs to it? What is its purpose?

I think there's a lot of misunderstanding, actually, out in the world about what the NCAA is and what it isn't. It is a voluntary association of around 1,100 colleges and universities with something on the order of 400,000 student-athletes participating across the country in all NCAA sports.

“The notion that student-athletes are somehow less successful as students is simply a misnomer. It's absolutely inaccurate.”

It's an organization that was founded over 100 years ago for the purpose of protecting student-athlete well-being, providing the approximation of a level playing field and providing safeguards around the nature of intercollegiate sport. And it's done that through this voluntary, high democratic process ever since in a really remarkable fashion. It's a very unique enterprise.

And it's a nonprofit?

Yeah, absolutely. Yes.

What is its annual income, revenue?

Well, its annual revenue from all sources is somewhere around $700 or so million from the major tournament, the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. But of course, that revenue flows out to all of the memberships, so every institution of those 1,100 members benefits from the revenue that comes into the NCAA. Parts of it go to the smallest Division III liberal arts institution up to the largest Division I institution.

And it's part of the larger business of college sports.

It's certainly a governing entity that shapes and defines the nature of intercollegiate sport for all of our members.

I've seen estimates [of] $4 to $8 billion?

I don't know really what that total number would be. I know that NCAA athletics provides $2 billion in scholarship support to student-athletes. So you've got at least $2 billion going directly out in scholarship money, so surely it must be somewhere in that $3 or $4 billion range, I would assume. ...

OK. So with that in mind, looking at the issue of the SportsBusiness Journal, and they have a readers' survey, and it says, "Biggest challenge facing new NCAA President Mark Emmert: Commercialization of student-athletes." What do you think they mean by "commercialization of student-athletes" in a nonprofit operation?

I think the biggest challenge that faces intercollegiate athletics right now is, in fact, trying to protect the notion of intercollegiate athletics as a place where student-athletes compete. That doesn't mean that the things that support those student-athletes are amateur or not professional.

Just as a student in a physics lab doesn't want amateur professors or amateurs setting up their laboratory or building the facility that they are educated in, you certainly want students who are competing on the field to have professional coaches, professional trainers, professional support staff that they have. And we want them to compete inside facilities that are appropriate to their level of competition.

So when we talk about the creeping commercialization of it, what we're concerned about -- what I'm concerned about -- is making sure that we maintain that preprofessional amateur status of the student-athletes while recognizing that there's increasingly greater interest in the whole nature of athletics in America.

So it creates sort of commercial pressures that get placed on institutions to be competitive while we're still trying to protect the student-athlete as a student and recognize that they are not professionals; they are not employees; they are, in fact, our students.

Now, when this issue comes up, the focus appears to be on Division I sports, particularly men's basketball and men's football, right? Those are the revenue sports.

That's right.

That's where the commerce is, really.

That's exactly right. So if you look at this past year, for example, there were only about 14, by our count, only 14 universities in America that actually had a positive cash flow under their athletic departments, out of the 1,100 or so that participate in NCAA sports. And in those cases where the revenue stream is sufficiently large to sustain the athletic programs, the revenue is almost entirely driven by football and men's basketball.

All the other sports, in virtually every case, are financial losers, if you will. They cost institutional dollars; they don't generate institutional dollars. So when you're looking at the pressures around commercialization, for the most part, it's around football and men's basketball.

But we don't expect most departments, or almost any department, in a university to produce money, right? I mean, they are educational institutions, which you expend money to teach students.

Virtually every university has academic departments who break even or better in their financial model, or the institution would go broke. So if you looked at [UC] Berkeley, for example, or any other large research-intensive university, and you added up all the tuition dollars and the state-support dollars per student, the psychology department would have positive cash flow; the music school would have heavily negative cash flow.

So the institution has to make a decision: "Are we going to have a music school, even though it's a financial loser?" And the answer is, "Sure, because that's what it takes to be a comprehensive university." And athletic departments do the same thing. They might want to have a football program, and they might also want to have a water polo program, knowing full well that one is going to potentially generate cash and the other is not.

But it's the peculiar character of athletic departments in Division I of NCAA sports that is the center of controversy.

Yeah, for the most part. You know, the controversies that occur around issues of commercialism or issues of student conduct or rules violations tend to be in Division I. But that's also, of course, where the cases get the most attention, because that's where the media spotlight is, in those institutions that play sports at the very highest levels.

And that's where the money is.

Usually, yes. Sure.

So how dependent is the NCAA itself on, for example, Division I men's basketball?

Division I men's basketball generates about 96 percent of the revenue that flows into and gets distributed out to the institutions through the NCAA. So it is by far the dominant revenue stream for the NCAA membership.

We're watching March Madness this month. That's the activity. That's the tournament that funds you.

Yeah. The media rights that come out of the NCAA tournament provide, as I mentioned, 96 percent of that total revenue that comes into the organization. Of the revenue that flows into the NCAA national office, about 94, 95 percent of it flows back out to all the 1,100 members either directly in cash allocations out to those schools and members or in direct support for all the other tournaments that we run.

So the NCAA runs 88 national championships, but it is men's basketball that allows the golf championship to go on or the volleyball championship to go on, because those, of course, don't generate that same kind of revenue.

So it's men's basketball that essentially subsidizes the rest of these championships.

Yes. That's exactly right. ... Ninety percent of the revenue that flows into the NCAA comes from the media rights and ticket sales for the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament.

And what's the value of that [media] contract? It's with CBS, right?

It's with CBS, and it's running about $700 million a year now. And it has some modest escalator -- it's with CBS and Turner [Broadcasting System], a really innovative combination that they brought forward to bid for the media rights. And it's a 14-year contract.

Seven hundred million dollars. That's a lot of money.

It is. It is, yes.

And it's been growing over the years.

It has. The contract going forward will grow about 3 percent a year. So the revenue will continue to expand, but not dramatically, at roughly the rate of inflation.

When we were talking with people about the commercialization of college sports, many people pointed to the moment many years ago, 30-odd years ago, when corporate sponsorships entered the world of the NCAA. Do you remember when that was happening, when you were an academic?

Well, I remember that the broadcasts of my youth, when I was just a youngster, were predominantly radio and television. And of course, as soon as we started broadcasting intercollegiate athletics, there were media rights associated with that, and there would have been commercials associated with each of those broadcasts. So it's something that's been growing since the advent of radio and television, and continues to do so today.

I mean, corporate sponsorships or payments, particularly from the apparel industry, the shoe manufacturers, to colleges and universities or to the coaches, right, that started to change the nature of the business.

There's certainly a variety of corporate sponsorships that go on that are usually around marketing rights, whether they're from a shoe manufacturer or from a beverage dispenser or whoever wants to try and build a partnership with the university or a conference or with the NCAA and use that for promotional purposes for their products.

Again, the same thing occurs with advertising around broadcast rights. And we see it pretty ubiquitously.

Do you know the name Sonny Vaccaro?

Remind me who Sonny Vaccaro is.

He's known as the shoe guy in the world of basketball. He's the one who was the Nike marketing person --

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. That's where I know the name. Sure, sure.

-- who actually began signing up coaches and paying them directly 30-some odd years ago. You know who he is?


He says he used to just simply pay coaches directly.

Yeah. I think there were, in the early days of that process, because it was new, there was a clear lack of regulation and constraint in that whole process. You know, today, all of the contracts that I'm familiar with with coaches include whatever the revenue stream is for those commercial activities in that coach's contract.

So a lot of times when you see a coach making a multimillion-dollar contract, the component that's paid out of institutional university revenue is a modest part. Another piece is for some broadcast revenue. Another piece is for some commercial support from one of those commercial activities. So it's usually a package of different revenue streams, and that's monitored by and inside the control of the institution, rather than a coach out here cutting his or her own deal.

As I understand it, for about a decade, they made these payments directly to coaches.

That could be. I'm not aware of that, but I'll take his word for it.

Well, in our own just reporting and reading. And then in 1989, Nike signed with a university, became a university-wide sponsorship, if you will, or endorsement of a particular product. Don't you see that as sort of a movement toward commercialism?

I think, again, all of those things have been from the beginnings of broadcasts, where you've got commercial support of radio/TV broadcast, and a variety of other media outlets, all of that has been an evolutionary process. ...

What struck us is that the contracts involve the athletes, the student-athletes, wearing these uniforms, wearing the corporate logo, having a particular kind of shoe on. Does the university and the NCAA, when you get involved in these contracts, guarantee that the players are going to wear the corporate logo?

Institutions make a commitment like that, again, just as they might in other contexts with their student body and with services that they provide. So in many cases, if a shoe company makes a contract, then yes, they will have an expectation and indeed a requirement that the uniforms or shoes would be provided by that institution.

Same thing might be true of the soda that's poured in the student union or the coffee that's served anywhere on the campus. So that's not a uniquely athletic-related issue. It just is much more prominent because you see it on every Saturday.

I'm told it includes the ladder that the player uses at the end of the Final Four when they cut down the net.

I haven't seen that one. (Laughs.)

I'm just reflecting on it maybe because in the [UC Berkeley] Graduate School of Journalism, we don't have any corporate sponsors. I don't have to walk around in a sweatshirt that says or a T-shirt that says "Pepsi" or "Nike" and so on. Isn't it quite different from the academic side to the athletic department?

Well, it's different in the sense that most academic departments don't attract very, very large audiences for their particular activities. So the finest journalism professor can't fill a stadium with 75,000 people paying $40 to come watch them. But on the other hand, that will happen for a football game, and it will get broadcast live to millions of people.

So therefore, that creates a commercial opportunity for someone who wants to use that to promote to market some particular good or services. That then presents a potentially positive opportunity for a university to make an arrangement that's not in violation of their core values, but generate some revenue that supports their athletic programs. ...

Vaccaro, as an example, says that for him, the game was over in terms of amateur sports when in 1989 he was able to sign the University of Miami, and then all the other universities wanted in on it, to dispense the money that he was giving out from Nike. As he put it, "They violated their own amateurism code by making a deal with the companies, with Adidas, with Nike and so on."

I couldn't disagree more with him. The issue, again, isn't whether or not the coach is an amateur. The coach is unequivocally not an amateur. The coach is a professional, just as the professor in the journalism department is not an amateur; he's a professional.

The status question is about the student, not about the coach or the professor. And our student-athletes remain student-athletes. And they are preprofessional. They are not professional in anything. They are getting ready for their life after college sports. Some very tiny fraction of them will, in fact, go on to become professional athletes. The vast majority of them will go on to become journalists and doctors and lawyers and teachers and nurses.

So to say that, "Well, because there's a commercial interest over on this side that's providing a university with some resources, therefore it's no longer an amateur endeavor for the student-athlete," is a non sequitur to me, [no] more than if a great donor came along and endowed an academic department and put his or her name on it that the students inside that department are no longer amateurs. I think those two things don't follow at all.

You don't see the contradiction that many have pointed out that when we're watching March Madness, when we're watching these games, you may have a coach who's being paid six figures, maybe seven figures in some cases. Everyone is being paid -- the athletic director, everyone you can see on the screen and many people you can't -- are being paid as part of this, but the students aren't. The athletes who are actually performing are not paid.

No, I don't find that contradictory at all. Quite the contrary. I think what would be utterly unacceptable is, in fact, to convert students into employees. The point of March Madness, of the Men's Basketball Tournament, is the fact that it's being played by students. We don't pay our student-athletes.

We provide them with remarkable opportunities to get an education at the finest universities on earth -- that's American universities and colleges -- to gain access to the best coaches and the best trainers, to develop their skills and abilities, so if they have the potential, that small proportion, to go on and play in professional sports, we're helping them develop those skills, and they can go do it.

If they choose to not go on, or if they don't have those skills or abilities, then they get to go on in life and be successful as a young man or a young woman. I find that to be a perfectly appropriate balance. And indeed, most people in the world do, because there are many, many, many students around the world who would love nothing more than to be able to come to an American university and gain access to American intercollegiate athletics, because it's such a great place to develop skill and to have that great experience.

In fact, it is a unique system, right, to have --

Utterly unique, yes, yes.

There is no other country in the world that has a system connected with its major universities that, in fact, has that level of play going on, that much money involved in terms of sports.

Well, quite independent of money, it's a uniquely American phenomenon, and it was before there was any commercial activity associated with it. For complicated social and historical reasons, American universities conjoined cocurricular activities and athletics, whereas the rest of the world largely didn't.

Interestingly, we've been contacted by a number of nations, leaders of educational enterprises in other countries, that are fascinated by the American collegiate athletic model and think it may be part of the secret sauce that allows Americans to have greater intuition, greater leadership, greater creativity. We've been approached by China, by Mexico, by European colleagues saying, "Gee, come educate us about this, because we find it fascinating."

You mean the phenomenon may be spreading?

It may be. Just as sport is penetrating most social structures around the world, it may well be the case that the notion of intercollegiate athletics is a global phenomenon in 10 or 20 years.

Just so I understand, when you're talking about amateurs in the definition of the NCAA, that's not the same as the requirements, for instance, to be on the Olympic team, right? They're not amateurs in your definition.

Well, they can be. I mean, the Olympics has their definition of amateurism, and that's fine. They get to establish what that means.

But amateur athletics in terms of the Olympics, you can make money at that sport or take endorsements --


-- and so on --


Things that your players can't.

That's correct. And in our case, what amateurism really means, again, is this preprofessional notion that these young men and women are students; they've come to our institutions to gain an education and to develop their skills as an athlete and to compete at the very highest level they're capable of. And for them, that's a very attractive proposition.

You know, there are major universities -- and I'm thinking of the University of Chicago, for example -- that don't participate in Division I or even Division II.


They're at the level of basically: "We're playing athletics for the sake of athletics. There isn't big money involved." Why is that?

The NCAA is a highly decentralized enterprise, with each institution being very autonomous in the decisions that it makes about the level at which it wants to participate. So there are more Division III schools than Division II, more Division II than Division I.

Now, the Division IIs and IIIs have more students participating in more sports, but they rarely do it on television, so the world doesn't see that. Indeed, the world doesn't see most of Division I athletics. It predominantly only sees men's football, men's basketball, and some women's basketball and some other sports that get played. But that's what attracts the most attention.

If Chicago or any other university decides that it wants to participate at Division III, that's perfectly fine. Those are institutional decisions that they get to make, and I think that makes great sense. ...

So what percentage of your student-athletes who are in Division I men's basketball and football actually make it to the NBA or the NFL?

Under 2 percent. So again, it's a very small fraction who actually move from intercollegiate athletics in those sports into professional sports. And then if you looked at the breadth of all of our sports, of course, the number who move into any form of professional sport is even lower. So across all intercollegiate athletics, it would be a fraction of 1 percent.

And you said that 14 of the hundreds of schools that are in Division I actually make money or break even. Is that right?

Yes, that's correct.

As I understand it, they lose an excess of $10 million apiece, each? That's sort of an average, or more than that?

Well, [they] subsidize the programs significantly, in the millions of dollars on an annualized basis. And they have made decisions that the value that their university gains, the impact it has on their campus environment, the support that they garner from a stronger affiliation with their alumni and the opportunities they're providing the individual students on their campuses are worth that investment.

I just read a report by Moody's [PDF] that says that it's very unclear that participation in Division I sports helps any of these universities; that what guarantees the bonds primarily, the bond rating, for instance, when they want to build a stadium, is the fact that it's guaranteed by student tuition or maybe a state legislature. But it has very little to do, if anything, according to them, with the success of a team or the NCAA Division I program.

I haven't seen that report, obviously.

Is there a study that shows that it's advantageous to a university?

I've not seen one. And I don't know that it would be an appropriate -- it might -- now you're just getting my own personal bias. I don't think it would be appropriate for an institution to decide it's going to embark on an athletic program solely for the purpose of trying to improve its bottom line at the Division I level. ...

Well, some institutions -- I'm thinking of University of Chicago, whose former president said: "Why should we have a football team? We might as well put our colors on a jockey and have a horse that somebody can bet on. At least a horse doesn't have to pass a history exam." I mean, there's great resistance to this model that we're talking about, because it appears to be, in some people's view, demeaning the academic enterprise in American universities.

Well, obviously, I disagree completely. If you look at the realities of the success of student-athletes academically across all of the programs, their academic success is in general higher than the student bodies of which they are a part. That success ratio and graduation and academic progress is sustained throughout their careers. If you look at the 10-year data on the graduation rates for student-athletes, it's nearly 90 percent.

The notion that student-athletes are somehow less successful as students is simply a misnomer. It's absolutely inaccurate. Of course there are high-profile examples of it. Of course you can find student-athletes who are predominantly interested in going into professional athletics and who leave early. But that's a tiny slice of the student-athlete pool, and one shouldn't generalize from all of that. That's simply a fallacy.

I remember we talked a little bit earlier about football. Football has its own conferences and organizations like the BCS [Bowl Championship Series], but that's not part of the NCAA, right?

The BCS is not part of the NCAA. Most -- not most -- all of the conferences are NCAA members, but they do their own business in terms of organizing their own schedules, and they all work their own work of individual conferences.

But they only distribute money to the members of their group. They're unlike the NCAA subsidizing Division III or Division II championships and so on.

That's right. But they also, depending upon the rules of individual conferences, they spread revenue in a relatively equal fashion. So if you looked at the SEC [Southeastern Conference], for example, all of the bowl winnings from SEC games are pooled together, and they're passed out in equal shares, so Vanderbilt gets as much as Alabama. And they do that in order to sustain the competition in those institutions.

And does the money that you pass on, for example, or those funds go to academic programs, or does it usually stay within the athletic departments?

They go to institutions, and universities themselves make those decisions. We don't tell universities how to spend money.

But our understanding is it primarily goes to subsidize their athletic departments; otherwise they would be deeper in the hole.

Again, those are institutional decisions, and how those universities decide to allocate revenue is up to them.

Just to make sure I've got this, the current contract with CBS and Turner Broadcasting is for how many years and how much money?

It's 14 years, and it's $10.8 billion.

$10.8 billion?

About $700 million a year.

That's what makes it so unusual, you know, that it's an amateur sport with that kind of money involved.

Well, look, the tournament brings in $700 million a year. Intercollegiate athletics gives $2 billion a year in scholarship funds. If we looked at the aggregate revenue across 1,100 institutions for any one activity, it would be a very large number.

So when you roll up the aggregate expenditures across all of those member institutions, it's a pretty large number, when, in fact, the $700 million that gets allocated out to those schools and to support the championships is a small portion of all of that.

And I know you said that the athletes or the student-athletes have a higher graduation rate than the general student population.


Of course, the general student population, when we're talking about Division I, the numbers are somewhat different, right? And those are usually students who are on scholarship, they're playing in men's basketball or football, and they have an infrastructure of support. Is that correct?

Well, we're talking about all of the students in all of Divisions I and II.


We don't have full data on Division III. We're still gathering all of that. So we're not just talking about football or basketball. We're talking about all of the NCAA student-athletes across those divisions.

But I think what we're focusing on right now is the students who produce revenue that supports the NCAA or supports the athletic departments in general, and in some places produces a profit. Those students are usually on scholarship and have a support system of some kind.

Yeah. Typically, you know, a football team can have 85 student-athletes on scholarship. There will be more than that on a program because of a variety of walk-ons. But yes, most of the student-athletes in the Division I program are scholarship students.

One of the things that was pointed out to us is that where you see the more successful teams, you see a lowering of the graduation rates. Let me give you an example: When you had the convention in San Antonio, [Texas,] one of the individuals you brought out was the quarterback on Baylor's football team.


And he talked about, I think, getting two degrees, going to law school and so on. And he appeared to be a very exceptional individual. His team went to a bowl. And in fact, Baylor's basketball team is in the tournament this year, and they haven't been there all the time. But their graduation rates have been plummeting. For example, when we looked at Baylor's -- and this is using NCAA's numbers -- its graduation rate is 38 percent, and among African Americans it's 29 percent. It doesn't sound like an acceptable graduation rate, and definitely 29 percent isn't higher than the general student body.

No, that's not an acceptable graduation rate. And one of the things I'm most pleased about that's developed over the past five or six years is the new approach that the NCAA brought to academic process and graduation rates, and the impact it can finally have now on the individual programs, whether it's by sport or even by the entire institution.

So we now, for the first time, have longitudinal data that we're using to restrict institutions for the number of scholarships that they have, and even restrict institutions from participating in a sport.

We're just now at a stage where those kind of penalties are coming into force. And if an institution were to have a continuous track record like the one you just described, they would suffer some very significant penalties in their ability to participate.

Didn't the graduation rate at the University of Washington for the basketball team plummet, and was about 20 percent when you left?

No. Actually, it was not. I was very pleased with the graduation rate of the student-athletes at Washington, and I hope you go back and look at it, because the graduation rate at the University of Washington among its student-athletes is second only to Stanford in the Pac-10 [Conference].

Editors' Note: In 2009, Washington's overall basketball graduation rate was 29 percent. African American basketball players showed a 20 percent graduation rate, with 0 percent for white players. In 2010, those numbers changed. The overall basketball graduation rate at Washington increased to 44 percent, while the rate for African American players dipped to 17 percent and white players increased to 100 percent.

In basketball?

Across all sports.

I'm talking about basketball, and men's basketball.

Basketball team graduation rates from two years ago, or last year's tournament, were based upon six-year-old data. Since that time, the president, the athletic director and the coach have all changed. And if you look at the current academic success of the student-athletes in basketball, you'll find a very different pattern.

That's why, in some reason, why you were brought to the University of Washington, because they had a major athletic department scandal going on.

I wouldn't describe that as one of the reasons I was brought there. There were certainly a lot of issues going on in athletics when I arrived, and we worked very hard to put those straight, and I feel good about what we did there.

So you think the number, the 20 percent graduation number, is a holdover from the past?

I know it is.

Do you think it will improve this year or next year?

Well, I can't say what will happen this year or next year, but I know that the academic, the athletic success and the student-athletes' success have all improved simultaneously there.

OK. I just wanted to switch for a minute to some of the NCAA requirements. I haven't actually ever seen your rulebook, but I understand it's pretty fat, right?


And this whole issue of commercialization. We interviewed [1960s NBA star] Oscar Robertson. He said he was NCAA Player of the Year for three years when he played back in the '60s. But he said, "Not four years, three years." Why? Because the first year he was a freshman; he couldn't play. And that's been pointed out to us, that it allowed for a transition for the athlete or the student-athlete coming into college who might not have been that accomplished in academics to get used to the atmosphere to set themselves up, and that the elimination of freshman ineligibility 30-odd years ago led to this, in part, commercialization of the sport.

Well, I think there's a bit of a non sequitur there about affiliating that decision with commercialization. I do think that --

Professionalization. So you didn't have to --

Well, let me finish.

So I do believe that the elimination of freshman ineligibility certainly placed greater demands and constraints on student-athletes. So when freshmen weren't eligible, especially if you had that rule along with the new academic standards -- the academic standards in place today are greatly more demanding than they were in his day, back in the '60s when there were very, very few, if any, academic standards placed on them by the conference or by the NCAA.

If you had the combination of those two things, I'm sure it would be very successful. Indeed, we're looking at some options right now around the community college transfer issue, because community college transfer students often struggle in maintaining their eligibility when they come in as student-athletes.

We're going to have an active debate, I think, coming up here about whether or not students could go into a community college and spend their first year not starting their athletic clock -- in other words, basically having a freshman year where they could do whatever remedial work they needed to get up to speed, so that they can then move more effectively onto four-year institutions, if they decide to do that.

So I think he's right in that there was some desirability in the freshman ineligibility. I think it doesn't make sense to say that that has anything to do with commercialization or professionalism.

You're not considering reconsidering?

We're not right now, for a variety of complicated reasons. ...

I guess one of the things I learned was when I heard that a player was on a full ride at a university, a full-ride scholarship at a university, I assumed it was a four-year scholarship. The fact that it's a one-year scholarship makes it unlikely for a student who can't afford to go to college to stay in college, let's say, if he's thrown off the team, right?

Well, I don't know why that decision was made, and if it was made back in the '60s, that was an --

It was 1973, I think.

I don't know why that decision was made 30 -- however many years ago that was -- 37 years ago. But the rule has been in place in its current form for 37 years then. And over that period of time, the number of students who have gone to institutions and received four and five years' worth of full support is a very, very large number. So to argue that somehow this has disadvantaged student-athletes is, I think, a hard argument to make.

You have statistics that show that most people, or a vast majority of the people who start out with an athletic scholarship keep it all the way through?

I don't know what those numbers are, but I would be shocked if it was anything other than a very large percentage.

Or do you see a large number of students, for instance, now, after doing their "one-and-done" rule which the NBA has put in place, playing in college, but as soon as they can go to the NBA are soon after going on and abandoning their scholarship?

Well, on an annual basis, there's about 10 or 12 students who are one-and-done student-athletes. So out of the 400,000 NCAA athletes, there are 12 who are one-and-done students. ...

By the way, it's described as a "full-ride" scholarship. And as I understand it, it's tuition, room and board?

And books and supplies. So it covers the vast majority of what one would normally consider all of the costs of athletics.

I think there has been some -- in my opinion -- very legitimate concern that there are still some unfunded costs that are associated with attending college, and that some student-athletes find themselves in a place where they need resources to go home because of a sick parent or to purchase clothing or some other element of normal day-to-day life.

And to address those kinds of issues, not long ago, the NCAA created a couple of student funds that this year provided $54 million of support that are allocated out to the conferences and to the institutions, to the athletic departments. So almost every athletic department in the country in Division I now has a pool of resources that they can use to support students who have those particular kinds of needs.

They have to be legitimate needs, of course. But if a student does need to go home for some emergency, or they do need a winter coat, or they need some support to allow them to continue as a student, [then] they can gain access to that.

I thought that there was litigation brought against the NCAA in order to increase the amount of these scholarships and use some of the money from your television revenue and allocate it to help students pay, because many of them have complained over the years that they were basically destitute while they were going to college.

Well, full grant-in-aid from an institution for an NCAA athletic scholarship covers tuition and fees, books and supplies, room and board costs. That's normally what most anyone would describe as a full-ride scholarship. If you talk to an institution that's giving a scholarship to somebody in the political science department for their academic prowess, they would describe that as a full-ride scholarship, I suspect.

Most of us who went to college wouldn't consider that a particularly parsimonious arrangement. On the other hand, when you add in the opportunity to also gain access to emergency funds that the NCAA provides for a variety of other contingent costs that a student might have, we feel pretty good about the arrangements that are available for our student-athletes.

If I'm an engineering student, I can get a job at drafting. If I'm a law student, I can go out and do things with what you call this preprofessional law and get paid for it with the skill that I have.


But if I'm an athlete, in the NCAA rules -- I just want to make sure I understand this -- I really can't use that skill while I'm getting a scholarship, while I'm playing a sport in college, to subsidize my income. I can't do an endorsement, for instance, of a product related to my sport. ... Is that true?

Well, let's define the terms for a minute. So 2 percent of our student-athletes go to professional sports, OK? In football and basketball --

Well, 1.2 to 1.6 --

One percent. All the others can use their skills in internships, in the summer, just as you described, because they are engineers; they're accounting students; they're journalism students; they're students in some fashion. And if they want to work in any of those things that are going to become their profession, in school, as an internship, they are certainly welcome to do so.

No, we are not going to allow them to play professional sports. No, we are not going to allow them to do professional endorsements around their particular sport. But certainly that doesn't prohibit them from pursuing what in all likelihood is going to be their real profession.

So as I understand it, a student recently who wanted to play basketball but had played in a league for money in France three years before was ineligible. That's an NCAA rule. You can't take money --

That's right. Someone who's played professional athletics is forbidden from coming back and playing as a student-athlete.

By the way, how much do you make as head of the NCAA?

Well, we don't discuss my salaries, but I'm well compensated, like many people.

More than you made at the University of Washington?

We don't discuss our salaries.

Well, I assume you didn't take a step down.

I'm welcome to [an] argument about the relevance of that.

Oh, well, the relevance is it's a nonprofit institution, which is funded in part by federal taxpayers. We don't get any tax money from any money you make. And normally that's public information, when we know your predecessor made between $1.1 and $1.4 million, depending on wh