The Best Business Model in the World

College sports is a multi-billion-dollar business. Do its workers deserve to be paid?

It's a simple question taking a convoluted journey through our legal system. But student-athletes are closer to getting their day in court, since a judge ruled yesterday that NCAA athletes can legally pursue a cut of the billions of dollars flowing to college sports through TV deals.

In 2011, civil-rights historian Taylor Branch made a monster case for paying college athletes in The Atlantic. He predicted that law suits like this could could destroy the business model of the NCAA. To dig into the economics of paying college athletes, I called up Dave Berri, a sports economist with Southern Utah University and the author of The Wages of Wins, who cheekily called the NCAA's rule against paying its own athletes "the best business model in the world."