10,800,000,000. Ten point eight billion dollars. I had to write it both ways because I had trouble reading that number out loud, and you probably will too. Think about the amount of zeros in that number. With that amount of money you can buy 74 Bugatti hyper-cars, stay 5,731 nights in the United States America’s most expensive hotel room, or if you like to party lavishly you can buy 390 bottles of million-dollar whisky. That number is what The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) makes per year.
College athletics is a billion dollar industry and has been for a long time. Due to the increasing ratings of college athletics, this figure will continue to rise. There is a huge controversy on whether College athletes should receive a salary considering how much money these players make for their schools and the NCAA as a whole. The NCAA has 24 sports for student athletes to compete in, and a total number of over 460,000 student athletes participating in sports per year. Twenty four sports yet there’s only two sports that are considered for student salary, College Basketball and College Football. Those two sports generate 9.15 billion dollars out of the NCAA’s 10.8 Billion dollars. Thats 84% of the NCAA’s annual salary.
Now what about the other 1.65 billion dollars the other 22 sports generate? The only two sports that people have these debates over is football and basketball, but theres more sports! If one student athlete is to receive a salary for playing their sport, then all 460,000 student athletes should receive a salary to be fair. This simply is impossible. How can you determine who gets paid what? Should the schools be offering the salary? Should Division 2 and Division 3 athletes get paid? Should a starting quarterback make more money than a bench warming kicker? College Athlete’s should not receive pay from their schools, or the NCAA, because there’s too many different variables, and no fair way to distinguish a set salary amongst all college athletes.
In a way, college athletes are already getting paid to play their sports. Its called a scholarship. Scholarships come with many benefits. “About two percent of high school athletes are awarded athletic scholarships to compete in college” (Bertolas 1). It is a privilege to get the opportunity to play at the collegiate level, let alone be awarded an athletic scholarship. This opportunity should not be taken for granted. To play at the collegiate level is something all athletes dream of and for most, it is the highest level of competition. Student-athletes being paid would only create more of a problem for other athletes, students, and universities.
So what are these Student-athletes actually getting from their scholarships? They receive more than just free classes. The scholarship includes tuition, books, food, housing, and branded clothing (athletic wear). Scholarships on average are over $100,000 worth of money a year (Bertolas 1). On top of a scholarship, student athletes are given other benefits such as free tutors, scheduling benefits, trainers, strength and conditioning coaches, free facilities, more clothes, and equipment.
At some universities all the extra benefits that athletes receive can total $200,000 over all four years (Bertolas 1). If the athletic scholarship and all the benefits were to be added together, student athletes are making over $150,000 a year. When athletes sign their National Letter of Intent, they are signing a contract that says that they are going to play for a university or a school in exchange for a scholarship. Before signing, student-athletes are aware that they cannot receive extra benefits from other organizations. Athletes are committing to represent the university, not their individual name. While representing the university, they also will represent the companies that sponsor the universities and the team. Universities can be sponsored by types of brand names like: Adidas, Nike, and Under Armour. Although the companies are sponsoring the university, they are also sponsoring the individual athlete as well.
One of the major issues that comes with paying college athletes is determining how you distribute the money. If football and basketball are every schools main source of revenue, should they only get paid? What about the athletes who participate in the other 22 sports schools offer. Should they receive money too? Should they receive as much as a football or basketball player? Should every single athlete on a winning team receive the same amount of money? What if you’re a starting point guard and you average 20 points vs a backup point guard who only averages 2 points a game. Should the pay be the same? What if you have 2 star players, or maybe even 3. How can you decide who gets paid more? Maybe they should be paid equally, but if they all receive equal pay what about the other contributing players on the team? I think you get the idea. There’s way too many variables that make it basically impossible to decide how student-athletes should get paid. The most important question is who will pay these athletes? The Universities, or the NCAA. The max a college can “pay” an athlete (through scholarships) is the max cost of attending/living at the school (Grimett 3). There’s already a cap on how much money Colleges can give their players, so would top tier student athletes even get paid as much as they should be? No. Some people believe that if the NCAA brings in millions of dollars, the least they can do is give back large amounts to the players who are making them their money. It is true that the NCAA racks in a lot of money but they actually redistribute a large amount of the money they make. The NCAA spend money on Sport Sponsorship and Scholarship Funds, Division I Basketball Performance Fund, Division I Championships, Student-Athlete Services, and educational programs (Grenardo 2). There’s no way both the NCAA and the universities can actually afford to pay athletes.
Do athletes only care about the money and making it as a pro? Or do they think about what a privilege it is to play for a college team, and receive a FREE EDUCATION. Most college athletes have dreams and aspirations of going pro in their sports, and thats okay. The numbers of NCAA college athletes going pro are extremely low. Out of 5 major pro sports (Football, Women’s and Men’s Basketball, Baseball, Ice Hockey) fewer than 2 percent of college athletes go pro (Grenardo 2). If we were to pay student athletes while they’re in college, we would just be giving them a bunch of money to have for their lives. They would have no incentive to go and find jobs because they already were getting paid money without even being a professional. It would put student athletes at a huge advantage, when the average college student graduates with large amounts of student debt.
Normal college students have to spend so much money on tuition and other fees for them to attend college. Imagine being a student and a portion of the money you give to your school goes back to college athletes. How unfair is that? That’s something that actually happens. Studies show that in larger universities such $800 of a students tuition cost goes back to funding for student-athletes (Bertolas 1). If you were a star athlete in high school and you worked hard, you deserve that full scholarship, and nothing more.
Paying college athletes will change sports in a huge way for generations to come. It’s already established that football and basketball are the highest paying sports in the college world, so if top athletes start getting paid from playing those two sports most athletes would feel the urge to only play those two sports! Parents would make their young children play only football and basketball, and teenagers would only want to play those sports because of the opportunity to make money in college. I do think that overtime a lot of the other sports would simply fade away in America, because there would be a smaller reward for playing them. If all the money is going into one thing, why would someone do the next thing?
Other sports aren’t the only thing that would be affected by college athletes getting paid. The schools would be affected as well. College sports would become more like a business, versus scholars playing sports for entertainment and the love of the game. The most talented high school players would commit to the biggest schools who make the most money, so they could get more money. All of the best players would go to the best schools, causing the schools to be extremely uneven and unbalanced.
The games would lose their excitement if the this were to happen. Theres only so many top money earning schools, so the rest of the schools would suffer in their sports. Less excitement would result in less fans. Less fans would result to less money for the NCAA and for the schools, because the fans are the ones who pay to watch and for merchandise. If the NCAA loses a lot of money then there would be less scholarships for both student-athletes and regular students. This would be a major issue over time for everyone.
With most problems, comes a solution. There is a way where college athletes can get paid, and it’s not from the NCAA nor their schools. Student-Athletes should be allowed to make money off their own name. They should be able to brand themselves. I just don’t see how this would affect anyone in a negative way. Typically speaking only the star players would be the money makers anyway, as they should be. It wouldn’t be unfair because they are the ones who bring in the high ratings. So why not allow them to make their own money? The NCAA currently prohibits student-athletes from selling autographs, accepting money as ‘gifts’ and having contact with an agent without losing their ‘amateur’ status and becoming ineligible to continue playing in NCAA games (Groyer 4). Those rules are simply unfair. The NCAA wont allow student-athletes to make extra money, but they do allow regular students to work normal jobs for money. All students should be treated equally, yet the NCAA hold athletes to a higher and more strict standard.
Ex college quarter-back Johnny Manziel received a suspension just for giving an autograph to a fan. They said he violated NCAA Bylaw 18.104.22.168, which forbids a player from permitting ‘the use of his or her name or picture to advertise, recommend or promote directly the sale or use of a commercial product or service of any kind (NCAA). All Manziel did was write autographs for fans, he didn’t directly sell them. He was suspended for knowing his autographs could possibly be sold by the people he gave them too. That is extremely unfair and the perfect example as to how the NCAA is extremely strict. They should rewrite a lot of their laws and allow their athletes to make their own money.
In the end, no one who plays a sport in college should be paid from the NCAA or their universities. It would make things way too complicated. It would make it way too unfair for other sports, as the focus of pay would only be on football and basketball athletes. Athletes already get paid through scholarships, why should more school funds be given to them? What about the rest of students who attend college that aren’t athletes. That money could easily be given to average students through grants/scholarships. All paying college athletes money will do is make it harder for colleges to get good at sports. It won’t be about the school being good, it would be about how much money they have. This wouldn’t be fair to the students who work hard at school and don’t even have a scholarship and watch these athletes get paid at a level of competition that isn’t pro. If colleges start to pay athletes it will destroy the college sports world as we know it.
The only way to solve this debate is by giving the college athletes more freedom. Let’s allow college athletes to profit off of their own name. Lets allow them to be in commercials, receive sponsorships, endorsements, and sell their own product. It wouldn’t affect colleges at all, and it would allow for the players who are famous enough or good enough to make their money. The big name players are the ones who makes the NCAA their money anyway. College students, athletes, parents of students, professors, contact the NCAA! Convince the NCAA to be less strict and allow their players to make their own money. The NCAA acts almost like a dictatorship with all the rules and regulations they have. Its time to be fair to everyone.