End the Scandal-Plagued NCAA's Tax Exemption


College sports are so scandal rife, herculean muscle must be applied just to compile a list of recent NCAA scandals. Merely listing all categories of college sports scandals is exhausting. NCAA athletes and coaches, even professors who cater to college athletes, have industriously devised all manner of venality to further the cause of victory for home teams. There are all sorts of scandals: hazing, sex scandals, grades, recruitment, point shaving, and game fixing. Throw in gambling and rape, and you haven't even begun to list them all.

No wonder, then, that Congress should start thinking about pulling this multibillion-dollar business's inappropriate tax-exempt status. Outgoing House Ways and Means Committee Chair Bill Thomas, a California Republican, did something last month he should have done much earlier. He queried the NCAA in letter form about how executives justify nonprofit status while raking in billions of dollars in TV revenue for game broadcasts, paying coaches exorbitant salaries, negotiating massive corporate sponsorships, and maintaining straight-facedly that they are "further[ing] the educational purpose of Division I-A schools."

"Educational purpose" is the bootstrap NCAA football and basketball teams use to share in their colleges' and universities' nonprofit status. But it's one that has vastly outlived its original purpose and is hollering to be yanked. Thomas mustered the courage to take on the NCAA only under cover of leaving office. Nonetheless, his legacy, no matter which party ends up controlling Congress after Tuesday's elections, will be requiring an answer to the question he posed before leaving public life: Why in this day and age do American taxpayers continue to subsidize a mammoth, profit-rich industry? Let's hope Thomas's successor agrees that there's no valid reason any longer.