FUBU CEO and Shark Tank star Daymond John spoke with TMZ Live on Friday and condemned the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) March Madness tournament calling it “modern-day slavery.”
TMZ Live hosts Harvey Levin and Charles Latibeaudiere were stunned by John’s comment during the interview and asked him to elaborate. John, 53, pointed out that athletes are fighting for their right to make money off their likeness, but there isn’t an upside for the average player.
“The average player will make $500; I think this is horrible actually,” John said.
He continued, breaking down the $850 billion deal between the NCAA, CBS and Turner in 2021.
“TV rights in 2021 alone made over $50 million; sportsbooks are going to gamble somewhere around 10 billion for March Madness, and that has nothing to do with the merch; what New Orleans is going to make,” John said. “Other alums who are donating to the schools and selling more entry levels to the schools and the players make nothing — zero off all that.”
“I think this is modern-day slavery, and they’re just giving them a little bit of a crumb,” he said.
According to ABC, six years ago, all parties agreed on an extension that pushed their pact to 2032. The yearly earnings are estimated to be $1.1 billion by 2025.
John explained that student-athletes face a significant pay gap even with NIL deals (Name, Image and Likeness) and scholarships —even with sports gambling, team merch and alumni donations—student-athletes still won’t make half of what the schools make.
“These players are bringing in billions of dollars and making absolutely zero,” he said. “It is really, I think. What business model do you know that makes billions of dollars and pays their employees to zero?”
John closed out his argument by stating he feels schools and the NCAA should be responsible for paying players their worth.