Should College Athletes Be Paid? Experts Weigh In
College athletics generate nearly $1 trillion in annual revenue for the NCAA and its member institutions, yet relatively little of that goes to the real stars of the show. The average top-tier football or men’s basketball player earns his school roughly $200,000 per season, according to NCAA data, while being compensated to the tune of $14,000 in education, food and housing each year. And all of that can disappear just as quickly as an ACL can tear, as scholarships are not guaranteed.
Meanwhile, more than 100 football and men’s basketball coaches earn more than $1 million per year, as do nine athletic directors and at least 30 school presidents, according to WalletHub research. Even teaching assistants make nearly $16,000 per year.
So the question remains: Should college athletes receive direct monetary compensation for their efforts, or is amateurism too precious of an ideal to let go of just yet? There are arguments to be made both ways, so we posed the question to a panel of leading experts to help you better understand the diverse issues at hand. You can find their responses, including 8 Yes’s and 3 No’s, below.
College Athletes SHOULD Be Paid
- "The way I look at this issue is that college athletes should not be prevented from being paid. Putting aside whether universities should be footing the bill, the NCAA shouldn’t restrict the kinds of benefits and remuneration that college athletes might be able to earn in the marketplace. That is, athletes should be free to sign endorsement deals with Under Armour or do endorsements for the local car dealership. The analogy would be to a performance arts major acting in a commercial or performing in the local symphony. The university doesn’t pay these students, but they are not restricted from being compensated by outside parties for their talent and work."
- Shawn E. Klein, Arizona State University
- "College sports is the only industry in this country whereby the court system has essentially ruled that competing sellers (universities) of a commercial product (FBS football and D-I men's basketball) are allowed to conspire to suppress the value of the human capital that generates their profits. The system also permits these sellers to collectively dictate the process by which the labor can resolve disputes concerning their rights, eligibility, etc."
- Richard Karcher, Eastern Michigan University
- "I believe that college athletes who appear on television should be paid out of any money received by their respective schools from the television networks. ... Paying college athletes would encourage athletes to stay in school longer andnot leave for a professional career."
- Joseph M. Sofio, Built Sports
College Athletes Should NOT Be Paid
- "Remunerating these young people makes them employees, not students. Colleges and universities should work for them, not the reverse. Many student athletes receive scholarships to help pay for their education. They may be exploited by over-zealous coaches who overwork them, TV networks that impose game scheduling that interferes with academic time, and outdated NCAA rules that prohibit athletes from taking jobs. But it is the NCAA’s and school administrators’ responsibility to protect, not abuse them."
- Howard P. Chudacoff, Brown University
- "Most high- profile college athletes really have very little leverage in a genuine job market. A full grant-in-aid provides both direct and indirect resources from which one can pursue significant, substantive educational and professional goals. Its attractiveness stands out when one considers the financial challenges and loan debts that face most of the nation’s college students."
- John R. Thelin, University of Kentucky
- "I believe that paying athletes who have no notion of the importance or the value of education presently would only make these sexy- sport athletes even more lost in the quest for an education."
- Sharon Kay Stoll, University of Idaho
Image: Alex Belomlinsky / iStock.
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