In Varsity Green, Mark Yost cuts through clichés and common misconceptions to take a hard-eyed look at the current state of college athletics. He takes readers behind the scenes of the conspicuous and high-revenue business of college sports in order to dissect the enormous television revenues, merchandising rights, bowl game payoffs, sneaker contracts, and endorsement deals that often pay state university coaches more than the college president, or even the governor.
Money in college sports is nothing new. But readers will be amazed at the alarming depth and breadth of influence, both financial and otherwise, that college sports has within our culture. Readers will learn how academic institutions capitalize on the success of their athletic programs, and what role sports-based revenues play across campus, from the training room to the science lab. Yost pays particular attention to the climate that big-money athletics has created over the past decade, as both the NCAA's March Madness and the Bowl Championship Series have become multi-billion dollar businesses. This analysis goes well beyond campus, showing how the corrupting influences that drive college athletics today have affected every aspect of youth sports, and have seeped into our communities in ways that we would not otherwise suspect.
This book is not only for the players, policymakers, and other insiders who are affected by the changing economics of college athletics; it is a must-read for any sports fan who engages with the NCAA and deserves to see the business behind the game.
According to veteran sports-business journalist Yost, there never was a "golden era" of college sports, when gentlemen scholars learned sportsmanship and teamwork; rather, sports have always been a means for colleges to earn money, power, and esteem, too often resulting in illiterate college athletes and corrupt athletic programs. The difference today is the scale: the Rose Bowl, though no longer the highest earning bowl game, generates more than $570 million for the Southern California economy; Nike pays millions in multiyear contracts with universities including Florida State, Michigan, North Carolina, and Illinois; and of the kids who devote their life to a particular sport, less than two percent will have a meaningful professional career. Yost reveals college sports as little more than a "machine that churns out kids for America's elite basketball, football, and hockey leagues," sacrificing young people's futures for big money and bragging rights. At times, Yost seems unsure whether to play the worldly reporter or the wide-eyed innocent, but his report is mostly thorough and largely well-written; conspicuously left out, however, are. the voices of the athletes themselves. Still, this intelligent critique of the U.S. college athletics makes a captivating examination of America's infatuation with money, celebrity, and sports.