Yglesias has a lively post up about how big money university sports programs are able to get away without paying the talent:
The universities that participate in these sports at the highest levels have already turned themselves into entertainment corporations. The difference between them and other entertainment corporations is that they’ve formed a cartel that bans them from paying their workforces. And they’re backed up by additional cartels—the NBA and the NFL—that make it virtually impossible to ever be compensated for your work unless you agree to an apprenticeship period during which you work for free on behalf of an entertainment subsidiary of an American college.
Forbes magazine reports that the most valuable (and most awesomest, while we’re at it) college basketball team in the country, the peerless University of North
Carolina, brought in $16.9 million in revenue in 2007, and Psycho T et al. didn’t see a penny of it, even though the fans were only spending their pennies to see them.
That said, damned if I wouldn’t do it for free.