Amongst the controversy surrounding the NCAA’s recent crackdown on violations with regards to college programs compensating players and players accepting compensation from universities and outside sources, one question has understandably been brought up. It is a question that was bound to be asked sooner or later, and one without an obvious answer: should college athletes be paid? It is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, question that surrounds the world of college sports. The answer, quite simply put, is no.
Allowing universities to pay students athletes to participate in sports would equire a complete overhaul of the NCAA rule book. At this stage, too many questions need to be answered: how much would athletes get paid? Where would the money come from? Would athletes in certain sports get paid more than others? This is Just the tip of the iceberg. The amount of time that it would take to (re)write this part of the rulebook would be ridiculous. Not only do NCAA officials have to write the new rules, but there would also have to be many revisions made before a final copy is finished.
Then the new regulations would need to be approved by the majority of the NCAA universities. And there is no guarantee that would happen with the first edition of the rules, so the process would continue to repeat itself until an agreement is reached. On top of that, the Title IX Act would need to be amended in order to accommodate the new rules in order to ensure equality across all genders. All the time it would take to create a set of rules and regulations and amend the necessary laws to make paying college athletes possible would use up many NCAA resources and cost a lot of money.
It is one thing to spend time to make money or spend money o save time, but creating new rules and/or amending old ones would be spending time and money Just to give even more money away from the university (to pay the athletes). The fact that the NCAA and its affiliates would have to allocate such a large amount of money to creating the new rule book raises another important question: where will the money come from? Initially, it would not come from the NCAA: they would most certainly be in some amount of debt after spending copious amounts of time and money on the rulebook. So why not use the revenue brought in by the thletes?
First of all, that is the money the NCAA would have spent on the creation of the new rules and regulations. Secondly, even without incorporating the costs creating a new rulebook would require, that money is reserved for the colleges and universities, the NCAA and NCAA subsidiary conferences (Big Ten Conference, South Eastern Conference, Atlantic Coast Conference, etc. ) in order to pay for coaches, training staff, officials for competition, construction and uptake of facilities, advertising, and a per diem for athletes and staff on road trips, among many other ountless expenses.
Not only do the numbers not work financially, there are also questions on the morality of using revenue to pay players. The main argument behind changing the rules to allow compensation for players is that they bring immense amounts of revenue into colleges and universities but receive nothing in return. While this is a valid argument, it usually only applies to the big money making sports such as football and basketball. The NCAA’s mantra is fairness and equality across all sports and genders, which makes compensation tor revenue generation a touchy subject.
In terms of morality, you could not rightfully pay the athletes in the “big two” sports but not in others. Conversely, you could not fairly pay athletes in the other sports for the revenue that they had very little part in creating. For example, think about running a lemonade stand and having to share the profits with your siblings who had no part in it. Or consider seeing your brother get paid for mowing the lawn while you get nothing for shoveling; neither of these would be fair to student athletes. The NCAA would take too much flak if compensating players came down to revenue.
If universities were to compensate based on the amount of money brought in to the school by each sport, they would be indirectly saying that they believe certain student athletes to be more valuable than others. Some schools also bring in considerably more money than others from their sports programs. Schools like the University of Florida and the University of Alabama would have no problem using the money brought in by football and basketball to pay all of their athletes (which would still be going against the aforementioned sports ethics, but let’s pretend for a little bit).
That is all fine and dandy, but what about smaller market schools like Bethune-Cookman University and the University of Montana? These schools bring in more than $50 million less than the previously mentioned schools. Not only does this limit the amount of money these schools could use to spend on paying athletes, it puts them at a great disadvantage from a recruiting standpoint. This is an extremely important piece of information. Aside from the idea of maintaining amateurism, the entire reason that the NCAA has rules against paying players and players accepting said compensation for play is to keep he recruiting game fair.
As nice as it would be, it would be nigh impossible to compensate athletes with the revenue that they bring in, which further muddies the discussion on where money would even come from if athletes were to be paid. Some people would say, ‘raise tuition’. To put it nicely, institutes of higher education would have mutiny on their hands if that was their answer. Speaking for myself and other college students I can and will say that this would not be a favorable or accepted idea. I would never pay more for my education so that omeone else can be paid to play a sport, let alone an amateur sport that I do not have any interest in.
Just imagine having your taxes raised in order for your local bar league softball teams to get paid for their ‘service’. Not even the most leftward- leaning liberal would agree to that nonsense, yet some people have proposed the same thing, (in principle), for college sports. In a world where a college degree is becoming more and more valuable, the cost is already becoming increasingly unaffordable; and that is without the additional pay that has been proposed by many. The worst part of it is that this proposal comes from the people that would be least affected by it: university officials, university boosters, etc.
Another idea that has been proposed is to re-classify athletic roster spots as “Jobs” and athletes as “employees” in the Federal Work Study program. In theory and on paper this idea sounds great, but in reality it is not as great as it seems. First off, employees in the FWS program are only allowed to work twenty hours a week. Every college athlete in every sport, male or female, spends much more than 20 hours on their respective sports each week. From practice, to film sessions, to weightlifting and conditioning, not to mention competition, that time adds up .
What would the athletes “overtime” be considered? Would the FWS program or NCAA be liable for the athletes at that point? Since the sport would fall under both, it is a tough question to answer. To this point, no one has answered it either. All of that is before the financial aspect of the proposal is even discussed. Over $1. 2 billion was given to 750 thousand students last year. There are almost 170 thousand Division One athletes in the country right now. If each one of those athletes were to collect the maximum of $7,000 from FWS, it would require an additional $1. billion dollars of federal funding, and that is without even having Divisions Two and Three in the discussion. $1. 2 billion is a whole lot of money, and it is very unlikely that such a substantial increase in the FWS budget would be approved. One of the best parts of college sports is the fact that they are amateur athletics. Not only are these athletes getting a college education, but they are also getting to continue their athletic careers in the sports that they love, and many of them are oing so on a scholarship. Is that not enough?
More than half of the student body at any given university would give almost anything to have that chance; and athletes are asking for more? It reminds me of Veruca Salt from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, the child who has everything but keeps asking for more. At many colleges and universities, student athletes are already given preferential treatment over their non-athlete peers. Just one example is Oklahoma State University, where there are numerous reports and admissions of athletes having school work done for them by utors and professors giving athletes grades they do not deserve in order for them to be eligible for competition.
Not only is this against NCAA rules and unethical, it is also sending the wrong message to student athletes. By allowing this to happen, or even by Just standing idly by, universities are telling athletes that as long as they are good at sports they will not have to do any work in life; and on top of this, people want to pay them? In no way does that seem like it would be a good idea or end well for the athletes later in life.
Most student athletes’ drive and motivation comes from anting to keep their roster spot, wanting to move up on the depth chart, pride, the fear of losing a scholarship and the possibility of playing at the professional level (which is often the biggest factor). If college athletes were to be paid, that would take away much of their drive, they already have what they wanted: money. If they are guaranteed money in college and the professional level, why would they try their best and risk injury? The level of competition would decrease, which would decrease fan interest, which would in turn decrease revenue brought in by athletics.
This case cenario happens in the world of professional sports all the time: a player inks a new deal with a team after a season of hard work, only to slack off once they are guaranteed money: the same would happen to a college athlete as well. All of these signs point towards not paying college athletes. Compensating college athletes for play would not only be financially unrealistic, a legal mess, and against sports and business ethics, it would ruin amateur sports. If that is not enough to convince someone that paying college athletes is a bad idea, then I do not know what would be.