>Thursday Lunch: The Issue of Paying Collegiate Athletes

Posted: December 9, 2010 in college football, ncaafb
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By Nick Gallaudet

 

kazaamThose of you that read Dylan’s column about Cam Newton are certainly aware of one of the problems facing college football. It is no secret that high school superstars are wooed by all kinds of things to attend a specific college or hire a certain agent, and despite being illegal, money is just another tool used by the schools. Anyone who has seen the classic movie “Blue Chips” starring Kazaam himself, Shaquille O’Neal, Penny Hardaway, and Nick Nolte is well aware of the measures schools will take to get an athlete. In today’s media climate, the issue of players like Cam Newton and Reggie Bush taking money from schools or boosters is met with cries from analysts to pay the players, because it is the schools that make money off these players with astonishing revenue from sports like basketball and football. I agree that it is completely unjust that someone like Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green can be suspended for selling game-worn jerseys, because he is making money because of his athletic gift, however, simply paying the players is not the answer. Outright payment to players creates and incredibly sticky situation. Is everyone paid the same? Who determines how much they get paid? Does each sport make the same amount of money?

 

There are too many questions that need to be answered, and the answers would not solve these problems, but they would just create more. It is too hard to fairly quantify how much a college player is worth to their school. Players like Cam Newton are most certainly more valuable to their teams than a third string guard at Washington State, but paying them different amounts of money would be completely unfair. That would give major universities like Michigan and Notre Dame an even bigger recruiting advantage and make it hard for smaller universities to field competitive teams. The revenue generated by football compared to something like fencing also creates a problem. Sports like fencing wouldn’t be able to generate enough money to make paying players financially plausible, so smaller programs would be leeching money from larger programs, and there are simply too many logistical complications to make something like this work.

 

Schools are not meant to be places for athletes to make a living. Schools are places of education, and paying their student-athletes should not be a priority. Scholarships should be an adequate form of compensation, because being a major college athlete is like having a full-time job, athletes don’t have time to make their own money, but scholarships should be enough to cover tuition and housing. On top of that, if a scholarship is not enough to cover the essentials (which if managed properly, it should be) there are other ways to get money for school like loans and financial aid.

 

Bottom line, paying college players would create more problems than it would fix. The real answer to this problem is diligence. The NCAA needs to focus less on minor indiscretions, like the A.J. Green situation, and focus on keeping situations like Cam Newton’s from happening. No matter what they do, there will always be someone trying to squeeze a little extra, but the only thing the NCAA can do is focus on minimizing the situations by handing out consistent and harsh punishments for paying players.

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Comments
  1. >The AJ Green incident shouldn't have even been a problem, the jerseys are his to do with what he will.

  2. Flyingoose says:

    >Nick,I totally agree with you that paying college athletes would be a difficult prospect to manage. However, there are a few things that confound the issue. College athletes are paid in scholarships, yes, but those scholarships typically translate to less than the minimum hourly wage for fast food workers. While a scholarship can be managed properly to cover the absolute essentials, it doesn't allow for much else. Think about your college experience. Did you stay in the dorms or your apartment the whole time and eat mac and cheese? Or did you go out once in a while and spend money on something that wasn't "essential" to have fun.Also, how many of these athletes have full scholarships? At the NCAA D1 level, most of the football programs can give full scholarships to the majority of their athletes (85 or 63 depending on the subdivision). The other 20 or so athletes are either shit out of luck, or get partial scholarships, depending on how many full scholarships the program wants to break up. Those athletes who don't receive scholarships are essentially paying to play on these teams, as they have to repay their loans at some point. Other sports aren't quite as lucky as football, so many D1 athletes in those sports are paying to play. Furthermore, many of these athletes are only in school to play their sport. Their area of study is often something absurdly easy, like psychology, history, or art. The majority of them don't even graduate once they have finished their athletic careers. Which means that if they have taken out loans to stay in school and play, they will have a tough time making enough money to support themselves and pay those loans off down the road.So, just a few things to think about.Matt

  3. >Hey, didn't you study psychology in school?-Evan

  4. Flyingoose says:

    >Yeah I did, and clearly I am very successful in the real world.

  5. >Hey, Grad School is more than most people have achieved-Evan

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