eCampus Blog

Should College Athletes Be Paid?

One of the biggest questions surrounding the NCAA and college athletics in recent years has been whether or not college athletes should be paid. According to a survey conducted by College Pulse in 2019, over 50% of college students polled support compensating college athletes. With 460,000 athletes making a minimum $25,000 salary, this could easily cost over 11 billion dollars!

 A common misunderstanding surrounding college athletics is that athletes are already being paid.

Do College Athletes Get Paid?

Based on current NCAA rules, college athletes are unable to personally profit off of their name or likeness. This means that a college athlete cannot receive endorsement deals or sponsorships during their time as an NCAA athlete. The only money that college athletes are eligible to receive are scholarships and cost of attendance stipends from their university. The cost of attendance stipend was made legal by the NCAA in 2014 in order to allow universities to provide extra funding to student athletes to cover all tuition and attendance expenses. This ruling was made after several NCAA athletes mentioned that they would go to bed hungry because they did not have enough money to afford food.

Despite the fact that the NCAA has allowed athletes to receive extra funding, the question remains: Should college athletes be paid?

The Case for Paying College Athletes

 1. Being a Student Athlete is Like a Full-Time Job

It’s no secret that college athletes dedicate a good portion of their time to their sport. Whether it be training sessions, games, or media commitments, sources say that college athletes spend up to 40 hours a week (at least) on their sport. This is similar to working a full-time job while also attending classes and keeping up with school work. Since being an athlete requires quite a bit of time and energy, many athletes do not have time to work other jobs for money.

 2. Cost of Attending School Exceeds Scholarships

One of the biggest issues that college athletes face is finding the funds to pay for extra expenses. For quite a few athletes, the total cost of attending school exceeds the scholarship that they have been given. A large portion of student athletes come from low-income households meaning that it would be almost impossible to afford college without a scholarship. Since student athletes are limited in how they can be financially compensated during their collegiate career, many struggle to afford extra expenses that may arise.

3. Colleges and the NCAA Profit off of Athletes

Sports like college football and college basketball have become the financial backbone of many college athletic departments. In 2017, the NCAA grossed more than $970 million off of college athletics while student athletes received very minimal reimbursement. In 2014, the NCAA made it legal for schools in its Power 5 conferences (PAC-12, Big Ten, Big 12, ACC and SEC) to give student athletes a stipend as compensation for their work. However, this rule was not mandatory and many athletes still struggle to make ends meet.

College Athletes Getting Paid: The Debate

The debate about student athletes getting paid has been fueled by comments from star athletes like LeBron James and Richard Sherman, as well as politicians like Bernie Sanders. Many of these individuals have expressed that it is crucial that the NCAA pay athletes because they are workers for their universities. 

Why College Athletes Should Not Be Paid

Despite the fact that there is a large number of people in favor of the NCAA paying athletes, there are quite a few individuals who still feel that college athletes should not be paid.

There are several points that have been made in support of the argument against paying college athletes. Many college and athletics administrators and NCAA officials have tried to argue that college athletics are about students playing other students. If college athletes were to be paid, that focus would shift to employees playing employees.

Additionally, there are several reasons why paying college athletes would cause disruption in the higher education system as a whole. A bill proposed to the California state legislature called the “Fair Pay to Play Act” would allow college athletes in California to make revenue off of their name and likeness. However, several NCAA officials have opposed this bill stating that it would allow California schools an unfair advantage. The president of the NCAA even suggested that schools who allowed athletes to benefit from this bill would be barred from competing in NCAA championships.

 At this given moment in time, the NCAA and higher education athletics departments would require a large restructuring within their organizations to monitor and regulate payment of athletes. The college sports landscape as a whole would require a complete restructuring to allow athletes to profit off of it. This is another reason why many are hesitant to move forward with regulations allowing student athletes to receive financial compensation beyond scholarships. Many feel that the consequences and hardships that might come from allowing this to happen would outweigh the potential benefits.

Why College Athletes Should be Paid

On the other side of the debate, many believe that college athletes should be paid because they should be allowed to profit off of their name and likeness. Advocates for the “Fair Pay to Play Act” and other initiatives in favor of paying college athletes suggest that while it might be a struggle initially, college athletes getting paid could be a legitimate enterprise. This enterprise could be used to benefit both college athletes and local businesses in college towns by allowing those athletes to receive promotions from businesses in exchange for endorsements.

 Think of it this way. What if an athlete like Joe Burrow – or any member of the LSU Championship team – could partner with a local restaurant in Baton Rouge in exchange for profit or free meals? Chances are the business would gain visibility and the athlete would also benefit from the exchange.

 Of course, paying college athletes would come with its own set of challenges, but many feel it’s time to correct the fundamental wrong that is profiting off of young athletes while preventing them from receiving any of that revenue. If fans are going to continue to enjoy college game days and expect top notch performances from college athletes, allowing college athletes to profit off of their name and likeness is something that will need to be considered. While the star football or basketball player may seem like a local celebrity, they’re still a young college student trying to make ends meet.

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References:

  1. https://www.athleticbusiness.com/college/how-ncaa-athletes-are-spending-their-extra-stipends.html
  2. https://bleacherreport.com/articles/654808-pay-for-play-should-college-athletes-be-compensated
  3. https://www.cnbc.com/2019/09/11/student-athletes-should-get-paid-college-students-say.html
  4. https://www.collegesportsmadness.com/article/18319#:~:text=A%20Salary%20Would%20Help%20Student-begin%20their%20adult%20life%20securely
  5. https://globalsportmatters.com/youth/2019/04/09/ncaa-says-amateurism-is-key-while-student-athletes-are-left-without-food/
  6. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/26/learning/should-college-athletes-be-paid.html
  7. https://www.politico.com/news/2020/04/29/ncaa-proposes-letting-college-athletes-get-paid-for-endorsements-220507
  8. https://www.si.com/college/2020/04/29/ncaa-name-image-likeness-rules-college-sports

Classic College Cinema

With “sweater weather” on the horizon nothing is better (and cheaper) than skipping the movie theatre, inviting the significant other over to the dorm (within visitation hours of course), slightly burning a bag of popcorn and watching a movie. Whether you still stack DVDs to the ceiling or you are a total Netflicker, there are some classic films about “the four best years of your life” that every undergrad should go out of their way to watch. Here are a few of my “oldies but goodies.”

Animal House

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If you’re in a fraternity, then this is your Godfather. Though this is a film set in the 1960’s, many of the movie’s events are time honored college traditions; from the toga party to the random road trip. Fun fact; during filming, the actors portraying the Delta fraternity were encouraged to have rambunctious parities (resulting in a piano being stolen from the hotel lobby) to promote cast bonding. The Delta actors also harassed the actors portraying the Omega fraternity in order to fuel their onscreen rivalry.

 Best time to view: The beginning of pledge semester.


Roadtrip

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A cheating boyfriend on the east coast accidentally mails a videotape of his sexcapades to his girlfriend on the west coast. What is the logical next course of action? If you said getting your buddies together to go on a cross country excursion to intercept said tape while making a bunch of hilarious stops along the way, then this is the movie for you. When I came to college, this was one of the only DVDs I owned. Needless to say, it was viewed at great frequency. This movie is also proof that, at one time, Tom Green was actually funny.

Best time to view: Right before your weekend road trip to the party school one state over.


PCU

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This one is a little more obscure than the others on this list but it is an absolute cult classic. For many students, college is a time to take up a cause to be passionate and active about. PCU (Politically Correct University) humorously riffs on what happens when people take these causes a little too far.

Best time to view: Right before the silent, candlelight protest over the rising prices of chicken nuggets in the student union.


Revenge of the Nerds

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A quintessential 80’s movie, Revenge of the Nerds is a cautionary tale of what happens when you push people who are smarter than you too far. This film is pure fun as the war between jocks and nerds (before being a nerd was cool) spawns prank after hilarious prank.

Fun fact: Curtis Armstrong is the actor that provides to voice for the character “Snot” on the show American Dad. Snot is based upon a character from Revenge of the Nerds named “Booger”, also played by Armstrong.

Best time to view: After going pocket protector shopping.


Legally Blonde

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For the life of me, I can not remember which girlfriend talked me into seeing this; however I’m glad she did as this is easily the most inspirational film on the list. Underestimated by her jerk boyfriend, sorority president Elle, decides to one up him at his own game by gaining admittance in Harvard Law school. Despite starring the gorgeous Reese Wetherspoon and being hilarious, Legally Blonde carries the message that a girl can be beautiful, sociable and smart; excelling in one of the hardest collegiate program while being a master of the good old bend and snap.

Best time to view: When someone is telling you that “you can’t.