Last Updated 02 Jan 2023

An Examination of Paying the College Athletes

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Recently, it has been brought to attention whether college athletes should be paid or not. Many different opinions have been formed on this topic, however I do not think they should be paid. This can be assumed considering all the advantages and privileges that the student athletes already have from being part of a team. Students are paying for an education, not being paid to participate. If they get paid, it is very possible that the determination for their best effort may decline.

Numerous varying National Collegiate Athletic Association, or NCAA, violations have occurred in the past. For example, in 2004, Reggie Bush and his family received at least $200,000 in improper benefits during his time at the University of Southern California.(bleacher) Cameron Newton, a current quarterback for the Carolina Panthers, has also recently been accused of trying to get more than just tuition from Mississippi State when he was being recruited. (bleacher)These instances of players or recruits accepting improper payment from the college or university have caused quite a stir in the debate about whether to pay college athletes or not. Perhaps this could stop NCAA violations? Doubtful. College athletes do not need any more monetary compensation besides the FREE tuition they receive.

There are many people who have various opinions on this controversial topic. One would say that they should be paid because the NCAA Division One college sports generate more then the National Basketball Association, a total of more then six billion annually. If the NCAA wants to present itself as a money making business it should be entitled to pay those who help bring in the profits. Although the NCAA proclaims its devotion to amateurism, it is hypocritical in the facts of selling video game licenses,

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game merchandise, and footage that provide direct profit for the association. The players promote these examples, but receive no cut of the profit. These profits go to directly to the NCAA and the schools participating. (povichcener) This goes to show that the NCAA coins the term "amateurism" to take advantage of their athletes, which is another reason why they should be paid.

Along with these facts, the athletes are major sources of publicity and, in some cases, public opinion of the school. With having such a major impact on views, ratings, even profits, many people consider college athletes to be "employed" for the university and that their tuition alone is not enough compensation for these positives they acquire. In such cases, people assume that being employed simply means working for/ promoting a business (in this instance, NCAA), and being paid for their services. These believers do not believe that the tuition itself is their pay and that they should be paid in addition to tuition because they are, as previously stated, employees of the university.

In contrast to these beliefs, I do not believe that college athletes should be paid for participating in a college sport. Sports are a privilege not a profession. No one is forcing you to accept the scholarship and in turn play. These athletes have the name of "student- athlete" for a reason. The Division 1 Universities offer an advance education that many other students might not be able to afford. These students are being paid for this through scholarships given indirect correlation with their ability that is determined by coaching or athletic staff. This being said, this already gives the athlete a better opportunity than most. (elonpendulum)

Many Division 1 schools would not be able to afford paying their athletes compared to the big name schools that we all know. A 2013 USA Today Sports Analysis confirms this statement as it resulted in only 23 of 228 athlete departments in NCAA D1 schools made enough money to cover their expenses from the previous year. (elonpendulum) The cost of running these athletic departments is extremely extensive. People such as coaches, assistants, trainers etc. are the people that help keep the program running. The entire athletic staff is the people who need to get the money first. If they cannot be paid a reasonable salary, where would the money for the athletes come from? (elonpendulum)

One could believe that two of the main questions of this whole debacle would be: should all divisions be included? And should all of the sports at the college be included? The main discussion of this topic has been revolved around Division I basketball and football at the moment, but this could bring about even more problems in the future dealing with the other sports at the universities and the other divisions. They could make a statement arguing that it is simply just not fair to them. If this pay were to only be given to Division I schools, who is to say that athletic programs in Division II and III schools would continue to prosper?

These programs would essentially become intramurals. Also, if the NCAA only paid two athletic teams, it is a given that the student athletes involved in other sports could easily be enraged by the possible “favoritism” from the university. On average, an annual cost of attending a Division I university is $35,000 annually. (usnews) This being said, there are 420,000 NCAA athletes across the United States. (statistics brain) One can then approximate that colleges and universities give these athletes a grand total of $14,700,000,000. That is fourteen billion, seven hundred million dollars. Putting this into prospective, that is enough money for a family of four to travel to Disney, stay in a luxury resort, and have unlimited park passes, about 11,102,719 times. (Disney) Say we added a salary of $20,000, to put it nicely, to these athletes' beneficial monetary gain. We can then add $8,400,000,000 dollars to the money to them from the university to get a grand total of $21,300,000,000. This is CLEARLY a ridiculous amount of money to spend on a program devoted to the idea of amateurism.

The NCAA takes pride in their amateur status of their reputation. (povich) Mark Emmert, the president of the NCAA said himself, "these individuals are not professionals...people come to watch sports because it's college sports with college students." This verifies the fact that these players are not technically employees, but privileged participants. (cbssports) He also believes that Division I college sports would decline in popularity if athletes were paid to compete. Division I schools would turn in Division III schools in the sense that the scholarships offered would be nonexistent because their new salaries could be used in them. Also, he noted that many players wind up picking a school based solely upon the amount of scholarship money offered. (cbssports)

Aside from the free tuition, these players receive additional benefits that the average student would have to pay more for. They have better living arrangements, such as suites, in which they have private bathrooms, private bedrooms, and a full kitchen. They receive health benefits such as insurance and, in a newly added rule, a food policy that states that the universities have to give their student-athletes unlimited meals and snacks each day. This is something that they have available to them right as freshmen and do not have to pay for because it is part of their scholarship. (ncaabenefits) Due to their hectic schedules, the athletes often have to miss class. An article from Forbes states: "Currently, the NCAA Division I football championship is played on a Monday night.

This year, the national football championship game required Florida State football players to miss the first day of spring classes.” They also mentioned: "Meanwhile, the annual NCAA men's basketball tournament affects more than six days of classes." (forbes) This is answered by providing certain times during the day that the students meet with private tutors to get their work done so that they keep up their grades so they can continue to play, which is also covered in their scholarship. (ncssbenefits) These benefits clearly outweigh the benefits given to regular, non-athlete students.

Although many may argue that only employees can receive benefits, it is easily put into frame when we consider this: The National Labor Relations Board considers an employee a person who "(1) is under contract of hire to (2) perform services for another (3) subject to the employer's control, and (4) in return for payment.”(Elonpendulum) In this case, the offer or scholarship letter would be considered this contract, the practices and games that create a profit for the university would be considered the service, the coach's rules are obviously the control, and the scholarship itself is the pay. (elonpendulum) If one wants to consider an athlete an employee, they must consider these circumstances. If athletes were to be paid on top of their scholarship, it would be essentially the same as a CEO of a company earning two salaries even though he was doing the same amount of work that he was doing when he received one.

It is evident to see reasons why college athletes simply do not need to be paid. If a completely free tuition is not enough, what is? Sports, especially college ones, are a privledge and not a right. One chooses to participate. One enters into the athletic association knowing full well that they are not entitled to any other benefits besides what is given to them in contract by the college or university. The NCAA has reiterated that money

they are an association dedicated to amateurs. They have said on numerous occasions that they are dedicated to the "rawness of pure collegiate competition.” (cbssports) Paying college athletes is an unquestionable debt to the NCAA. Where would this 'extra': come from? Universities do not just have an abscess of money lying around to give to athletes. Overall, student athletes need to learn that the NCAA is not even considering paying them due to the numerous reasons discussed. Although many positives can be discussed about paying student-athletes, the negatives easily outweigh them. 

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