Duke defeated Wisconsin last night, 68-63, to win the NCAA men’s basketball championship. Both teams were top seeds, but the main contrast between the two powerhouses was that Wisconsin was led by upperclassmen—a rarity in the modern college game—and Duke’s top players were one-and-done freshmen expected to enter the NBA next season. Nevertheless, both teams’ players were paid the same amount—zero—during three weeks of basketball insanity in which you may have spent more time studying your office bracket than the student-athletes spent in a classroom.
If it seems like I’m dwelling on the negative, at least give me credit for not mentioning the officiating during the Final Four. But let’s spend one more minute on the NCAA, which has a $10.8 billion contract with CBS and TBS to air the tournament games through 2024—and continues to insist its work force comprises amateurs who can neither profit from their ability or celebrity, nor expect much more than a scholarship that can be retracted at any moment.
In that spirit, enjoy the traditional post-tournament music video, “One Shining Moment,” which never fails to capture the glory and the tears of March Madness. When I was a kid, the tournament wasn’t officially over until David Barrett’s 1986 song put the wins and losses into perspective, culminating with the champions holding the trophy. As an adult, though, I can’t help but wince every time they cut to one of the famous coaches—those molders of men—as I speculate how much they were paid this season. Try it (courtesy of USA Today); it’s fun. Notre Dame’s Mike Brey: $1,526,488. Michigan State’s Tom Izzo: $4,006,955. Kentucky’s John Calipari: $6,356,756. And Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski: $6,043,979.
Kids watch and dream about playing in the Final Four. They should start dreaming about becoming a college coach instead.