When it comes to preventing young athletes from earning a fair share of the more than $8 billion a year generated by college sports, the National Collegiate Athletic Association is akin to a moralizing street mugger.

It's not enough for the organization to flash a knife and demand players' wallets; it also has to tell everyone within earshot that, no, actually, empty pockets are good. That's how the NCAA argues that its amateurism rules - which limit player compensation to tuition, room, board and small cost-of-living stipends, but do not restrict sports administrators such as Alabama football coach Nick Saban from collecting millions — are necessary and justified because they protect and enhance athletes' educations.