According to USA Today, which tracks these things, the University of Washington’s athletic department generates more than $130 million a year.
That’s a lot of money for fun and games, and it’s about twice as much as in-state “rival” Washington State, which helps explain why the Cougars are Sisyphus to the Huskies’ steep hill. And still, those numbers are not close to the $200 million annual range of behemoths such as the University of Texas, Texas A&M and Ohio State.
All of which seems relevant with the president of the National Collegiate Athletic Association coming to Congress last week begging for help. “We may need Congress’ support in helping maintain uniform standards in college sports,” Mark Emmert told a Senate subcommittee.
If that seems like an odd stance for the head of a cartel … well, it is. But the NCAA is feeling pressure from legislation that has been passed or is pending in more than 20 states and is threatening to blow up the business model of college sports. In Washington, a bill “concerning unfair practices involving compensation of athletes in higher education” has not made it out of committee.
Such legislation, already passed in California, would allow college athletes to earn money off their name, image and likeness. In other words, the quarterback could do TV commercials for the local car dealer and get paid for it. And the running back could garner a share of the sales of all those jerseys the fans wear in the stadium.