NCAA – It’s Time to Pay Up

By Stetson Hershey –

Compensating college athletes is becoming more and more popular every year. Players receive cash, gifts, etc. from schools and agents. This gets the players in major trouble with the NCAA, but what’s wrong with paying them?

Simply because it is deemed ‘immoral’ to pay athletes that are in college is the reason most of the “amateur player” rules are enacted.  But why shouldn’t they be paid? College athletics is a full-time job for these students. They must attend classes like any other student, yet they must go out and compete in sports that make the university’s millions in merchandise, advertising and publicity.

These athletes do get scholarships to go to school for free or at a nice discount, but what does a scholarship do if the player doesn’t graduate? Where is the value in that? Graduation rates among football bowl subdivision (FBS) players is 69 percent while mens basketball is 66 percent. African-American athletes graduation rate is even lower at 60 percent. Which, by the way, is roughly on par with Shaquille O’Neal’s free-throw percentage.

More and more athletes are leaving school early to take a chance at playing in the pros. Maybe it’s because of the restrictions on paying athletes while they are in college.

There were 60 selected players in the NBA draft in 2010, 37 of them were underclassmen including 11 freshman. Eight of the top 15 picks in the 2010 NFL draft consisted of underclassmen. Athletes are leaving school early, realizing that the same talent they bring to a college arena can make them money faster in a pro arena. Some elect to just simply go overseas to play for a few years instead of attending college because they will be paid.

Kemba Walker, a junior at the University of Connecticut, is the star of the basketball team. His UCONN Huskies made an improbable run in the Big East tournament, winning five games in five days to win the tournament. Kemba scored 130 points (26.5 ppg) and played 180 minutes in those five days.

UCONN players did all of this while keeping up with every facet of their school work just like every other student, but they were also making tons of money for the schools and conference. The aggregate cost to attend the Big East tournament was $934, according to estimates by Forbes magazine. That’s a lot of money being brought in for the school but the players don’t get any of it, even though they were the main attraction of this tournament. Why don’t they deserve anything for all the work they do to win?

When these players do receive compensation, they must do so illegally. Boosters and agents continue to contact and pay to persuade these players to go to a certain school or sign with an agency. When these players are caught taking money from these people, they are in big trouble with the NCAA. They can be suspended for games or simply suspended from participating anymore. If they are suspended from participating, then what is keeping schools from taking their scholarships as well?

Student athletes feel the stress and pressure to make money for themselves, like any other student. Yet many are unable to hold down a job because of school and sports. So why not give these athletes some money, like an allowance, for what they do?

At the end of every month students could receive money ($1000-$2000) for what they do for the school. Or to be fair to all the student athletes, give them all $500 dollars a month. Then at the end of each month give the players more money, or a small percent of the revenue they created for the school. That way, the school gives out an equal amount, and then some for how much money the sport brings to the school.

These “allowances” would give them money for gas, food and entertainment.  It would also eliminate the practices of paying college athletes that are currently deemed illegal.