Category: Academics

“When Capitalism Gets Broken”

sabanbamaUniversity of Alabama head football coach, Nick Saban is the highest paid coach in the college ranks enjoying a compensation package of almost $7 million per year.

Not bad. Good for Nick. He works hard and he has achieved significant success throughout his career. Hard work and success are worthy of reward. It’s the American way.

The crown jewel of Nick Saban’s bounty is the 8,759 square foot home in Tuscaloosa, Alabama the that he purchased in 2007 for $2.875 million. That is not unreasonable and actually seems to be a wise investment considering the ratio between his salary and the purchase price of his home. How many of us are fortunate enough to purchase a home costing less than half of our annual salary? 13047324-mmmain

In 2013, just ten weeks after Alabama defeated Notre Dame for the National Championship the Saban’s sold their beautiful home for $3.1 million. Good for Nick, he cleared a cool 225K in just six years. That was a very wise investment indeed.

This is where, for me it gets a little, uh, weird.

The Saban’s continue to live in the home that they sold. Why? Because the buyer of the home is the Crimson Tide Foundation and they have invited the Saban’s to live in the home, rent-free indefinitely, even after retirement. If that is not enough generosity, the Foundation is also footing the $10,000 annual property tax bill.

The Crimson Tide Foundation was founded for the purpose of raising money to provide funding for scholarships as well as coaching salaries for the University of Alabama sports program. Under the circumstances it is reasonable not to find fault with their generosity to the Saban’s. What they have done is both legal and arguably ethical. But, at its foundation, (no pun intended) is it right?

I encourage the members of the Crimson Tide Foundation to read the recent Sports Illustrated article entitled, “The Young, Gifted and Homeless”. (October 20, 2014) The article reveals the plight of homeless student athletes as they balance difficult and uncertain daily routines with the pursuit of academic and athletic excellence.   Perhaps the Foundation could toss in a little “something – something” to help support these hard working students, most of whom entertain no illusions of ever receiving the wealth and fame associated with top tier professional athletes but who want nothing more than a chance to benefit from a college education. People who can’t afford housing  certainly can’t afford college but an athletic scholarship could prove to be their ticket to a degree. They deserve a chance to realize their goals.

What contribution is there to the Common Good when wealth supports wealth while hard-working student athletes subsist on a diet of top ramen ?

I am not advocating socialism. When hard working people support bottomless entitlement programs it can be detrimental to the social fabric. But at some point we need to take a hard look at the folly of excess when it comes at the expense of opportunity.

This is just one example of capitalism running amuck.