Kentucky head basketball coach John Calipari is no question out of touch with reality. Calipari is currently on a media tour regarding his new book Players First: Coaching from the Inside Out and made an appearance on ESPN’s Mike and Mike to talk about it and the goings on around the college sporting world.
Calipari brought up multiple topics including the heavy topic of players being paid and unions. His thoughts on paying players is a simple one, to him at least.
“If you’re lower or middle income, you get no grants. You get no financial-need aid. None of that. If you’re really poor, you’ll get grants to get you by. But not those kids in the middle income,” he said in a “Squawk Box” interview. “My thing is: there’s a cost of attendance. What is it $3,000 to $5,000? I don’t know what it is, but these kids deserve that.”
So the paying players should come out of the cost of attendance, whatever that is.
If paying the players an unknown salary of attendance money that has yet to be determined wasn’t enough, Calipari wants the players family members to travel and stay in hotels for free. Who does he want to pay for this? Well the media of course.
“Make [the media] people pay for your tickets,” Calipari said on ESPN’s First Take on Tuesday. “And you’re eating popcorn and pretzels and Cokes and buy – think about this idea – buy your own meal.”
I will admit that media members are fed at events. At this past sweet 16 I enjoyed possibly three coca-colas, two Powerades, an orange juice and three bags of chips. While in Madison Square Garden I was required to pay for my own hotel, my own parking, my own transportation to the event, and once I had left new york was out far more than the cost of the ticket price of $279 that the public pays to attend the weekend. ESPN’s Stephen A Smith replied similarly, “I got news for you,” Smith said addressing Calipari’s comments, “we usually do, because the meals for the media usually stink.”
But for entertainment value I will hear him out.
let’s assume that all 1,829 members of the media who attended the Final Four in Texas all had to pay for the media credential or meal. If they all paid the NCAA would have $510,291 to spend, roughly, on travel for the players parents. That would be enough to roughly fly 1,800 people to Dallas, assuming that they were all given discounted rates and could all fly via the same lowest cost airline (flight pricing of $298 through American). What about hotels? Calipari thinks the media should pay for that too. The average price in the hotels around Dallas during the final four were around $300 per night. In New York, with a media member discount, the hotel prices were around $250-275 per night. Now with flight and hotel, we are talking about the travel expenses of roughly 930 people.
Would this cover the travels expenses? Possibly, sure. But what about all the members of the media who have broadcasting rights and are already paying the NCAA? Do you think CBS and their 14 year multi-billion dollar contract is going to pay again for the players families to travel? So now you’re asking to take money from the billion dollar contracts that are used for bonuses to the coaches and teams for their advancements. Do you think it would make more sense to possibly take that money out of the $350,000 bonus that Calipari received for making the NCAA tournament? What about taking it out of the $1.5 million that Kentucky made for making the final four? Would make more sense to me.
“And that’s not the only money generated in Division I basketball,” Calippari wrote in his book, talking about the $10.8 billion CBS/Turner television contract with the NCAA Final Four. “There’s the ticket revenue from games. Money from the sale of apparel. The dollars that come in from television and radio coverage of regular-season games.”
It seems to me like Calipari just named a lot more options for paying for the players parents to me. But the money generated by these options should remain in his pocket and the $310 million renovation of Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky. Calipari’s heart may be in the right place, but he himself admitted to not paying attention to the Northwestern Union situation nor the business side of the union and college athletics. If you don’t understand the money side and where the money is going, sometimes it is best to just keep your mouth shut.