Will Ware be stuck with the bill?

Players are often unprotected by the huge NCAA system they play for -- and injuries can mean crippling bills

Topics: kevin ware, NCAA, ncaa basketball, College basketball, Louisville basketball, Editor's Picks, , ,

Will Ware be stuck with the bill? Louisville guard KevinWare grimaces as trainers look at his injury during the first half of the Midwest Regional final against Duke in the NCAA college basketball tournament on Sunday.

Louisville sophomore Kevin Ware’s injury today in the Midwest Regional finals of the NCAA tournament will likely be remembered alongside Joe Theismann’s career-ender as one of the most tragically gruesome in sports history. But that’s not the only tragic and gruesome part of this episode, because unlike Theismann, who was working under a guaranteed contract, Ware was an NCAA athlete helping to generate millions of dollars for the NCAA, but not automatically guaranteed a four-year education scholarship. As in so many other similar cases, that means his injury in service to the NCAA’s multimillion-dollar machine could spell the end of his financial aid and massive healthcare bills to boot.

Yes, that’s right — NCAA basketball is a $780 million-a year business that makes 1 percenters out of NCAA executives, coaches, athletic directors and college administrators. Yet that same business offers relative scraps to the players who actually generate that money.

It is certainly true that Division I NCAA basketball players get athletic scholarships. However, those scholarships often do not cover the entire cost of attending college. Additionally, many are not guaranteed four-year scholarships — on the contrary, many schools refuse to offer guaranteed multi-year scholarships, and the NCAA’s big “reform” of the last few years wasn’t to mandate such a guarantee, but to merely allow it if particular schools want it.

That means that if a player like Ware gets injured while on the job at a school that doesn’t offer a multi-year scholarship, the scholarship can be — and often is — revoked.

You Might Also Like

If that isn’t bad enough, the New York Times reports that when it comes to major on-the-court injuries like the one Ware sustained, medical bills can end up being the responsibility of the student and the student’s family, rather than the NCAA or the school. Indeed, the NCAA has a Catastrophic Injury Insurance Program, but the Birmingham News reports that there is a $90,000 deductible. Worse, the Daily Caller reports that while “the NCAA has its own catastrophic injury insurance, which insures individual athletes up to $20 million … the majority (of athletes) don’t qualify.”

“If you don’t lose a limb, or motion in one of your limbs, you wouldn’t be considered catastrophically injured,” Ramogi Huma, head of the National Collegiate Players Association, told the Daily Caller. “Then it’s completely up to the school, or yourself.”

While there has been some much needed talk in the college sports world of fixing this shameful reality, and while California has recently moved some of the questions into the legislative arena, there is still stiff resistance to any kind of guarantees to players. For example, the NCAA policy merely allowing multi-year scholarships came within two university votes of being overridden. Likewise, major schools like UConn have waged fights in their state legislatures to stop bills that would protect scholarships for players injured on the job.

But even if such reforms were cemented and strengthened, the fact is that these issues cannot be fully addressed until the root problem is addressed — and that root problem is the NCAA’s refusal to give players not merely decent scholarships and solid health insurance, but also a share of the revenues those players generate.

As the civil rights historian Taylor Branch put it in his landmark analysis of the NCAA, “the real scandal is the very structure of college sports, wherein student-athletes generate billions of dollars for universities and private companies while earning nothing for themselves.” Those players are treated as worse than mere commodities — because at least commodities are given a financial value. They are treated as indentured servants, who do not get their fair share of the revenues and who can be discarded if they dare get hurt doing a job for the very school that refuses to guarantee them a full college education.

Kevin Ware was a heavily recruited basketball prospect. So, along with hoping that he fully recovers from his injury, let’s also hope that unlike so many other athletes, he was able to negotiate a guaranteed multi-year scholarship with Louisville, even though that school voted to ban multi-year scholarships (it cast such a vote, by the way, despite being the most profitable school in college basketball).

But whether or not Ware himself has some modicum of financial aid stability, his injury on the national stage serves as a reminder that too many athletes do not. And that is a wake-up call telling the game-watching audience that for all the excitement, enjoyment and heartbreak that college basketball generates, it is entertainment predicated on an immoral business model — one that must finally change.

David Sirota

David Sirota is a senior writer for the International Business Times and the best-selling author of the books "Hostile Takeover," "The Uprising" and "Back to Our Future." E-mail him at ds@davidsirota.com, follow him on Twitter @davidsirota or visit his website at www.davidsirota.com.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Martyna Blaszczyk/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 1

    Pond de l'Archeveche - hundreds thousands of padlocks locked to a bridge by random couples, as a symbol of their eternal love. After another iconic Pont des Arts bridge was cleared of the padlocks in 2010 (as a safety measure), people started to place their love symbols on this one. Today both of the bridges are full of love locks again.

    Anders Andersson/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 2

    A bird's view of tulip fields near Voorhout in the Netherlands, photographed with a drone in April 2015.

    Aashit Desai/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 3

    Angalamman Festival is celebrated every year in a small town called Kaveripattinam in Tamil Nadu. Devotees, numbering in tens of thousands, converge in this town the day after Maha Shivratri to worship the deity Angalamman, meaning 'The Guardian God'. During the festival some of the worshippers paint their faces that personifies Goddess Kali. Other indulge in the ritual of piercing iron rods throughout their cheeks.

    Allan Gichigi/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 4

    Kit Mikai is a natural rock formation about 40m high found in Western Kenya. She goes up the rocks regularly to meditate. Kit Mikai, Kenya

    Chris Ludlow/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 5

    On a weekend trip to buffalo from Toronto we made a pit stop at Niagara Falls on the Canadian side. I took this shot with my nexus 5 smartphone. I was randomly shooting the falls themselves from different viewpoints when I happened to get a pretty lucky and interesting shot of this lone seagull on patrol over the falls. I didn't even realize I had captured it in the shot until I went back through the photos a few days later

    Jassen T./National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 6

    Incredibly beautiful and extremely remote. Koehn Lake, Mojave Desert, California. Aerial Image.

    Howard Singleton/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 7

    Lucky timing! The oxpecker was originally sitting on hippo's head. I could see the hippo was going into a huge yawn (threat display?) and the oxpecker had to vacate it's perch. When I snapped the pic, the oxpecker appeared on the verge of being inhaled and was perfectly positioned between the massive gaping jaws of the hippo. The oxpecker also appears to be screeching in terror and back-pedaling to avoid being a snack!

    Abrar Mohsin/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 8

    The Yetis of Nepal - The Aghoris as they are called are marked by colorful body paint and clothes

    Madeline Crowley/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 9

    Taken from a zodiac raft on a painfully cold, rainy day

    Ian Bird/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 10

    This wave is situated right near the CBD of Sydney. Some describe it as the most dangerous wave in Australia, due to it breaking on barnacle covered rocks only a few feet deep and only ten metres from the cliff face. If you fall off you could find yourself in a life and death situation. This photo was taken 300 feet directly above the wave from a helicopter, just as the surfer is pulling into the lip of the barrel.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>