Author explores the commercial in college sports

Are student athletes being exploited when they compete tirelessly while schools make millions of dollars off of them? Donald Moss examined that issue and the overall commercialism of college sports in his new book Going Pro.

Moss gave a discussion and signed copies of his book at Books and Books in Coral Gables Wednesday night. After spending seven years in the high tech aerospace industry as a research analyst, Moss decided to return to the sports world, covering events at the University of Southern California, where he was once a walk-on for the football team.

Around this time, Moss ran into a former teammate hustling concert tickets. This inspired him to research what happens to student athletes that do not take advantage of the opportunities given to them.

“I realized after meeting with him that we both had opportunities,” Moss said. “I was a walk-on; he was a full-scholarship athlete. It was tough to see him making a nickel-and-dime here and there. He was an athlete with an opportunity to go to school and have a great career.”

The book is written from the perspective of a budding journalist named Dan Christensen who seeks to find the truth about the big business aspects of collegiate athletics. During his seven years of research, Christensen finds out many disturbing things about the side of college sports most people are not exposed to.

“The biggest problem is how prevalent the university promotes student-athletes,” Moss said. “In reality, they are more interested in winning, and usually education gives in. There is a lot of money going around and contracts with television, and the universities use this to draw students in.”

Moss said that as long as athletic departments have a hand in education, nothing will improve.

“To change the current system the athletic departments will have to give education back to the university,” he said. “As long as the athletic department oversees the education of these athletes, there is always going to be a conflict of interest because the most important goal is to win games.”

In the book, Moss talks about how athletes are exploited, but he does not think that student athletes should be getting paid for playing sports.

“The benefit of being a student athlete is to earn a degree to prepare for life after college,” he said. “The students don’t see the big picture, which is that most of them are getting a $130,000 education, because they are not getting any money to put in their pockets. They should receive some spending money, however.”

Moss also discussed the growing rate of athletes leaving school early for the professional ranks. He said that students will continue to forgo the rest of their education in large quantities.

“I have talked to professional athletes, college athletes, parents and agents to try to give the perspective of each side,” he said. “Agents make promises to college athletes that they don’t deliver. I don’t foresee a decline in the number of athletes that leave school early.”

Going Pro will be in bookstores on Nov. 1. The book can also be found on

Eric Kalis can be contacted at