Should Division I college athletes be paid or compensated?
In 2013, USA Today reported 13 Division I athletic departments generated more than $100 million in revenue. Nearly 100 schools nationwide generated more than $25 million in revenue. The National Collegiate Athletic Association has TV deals with CBS and ESPN for the men’s basketball and football playoffs that are worth more than a billion dollars annually. Yet, the NCAA and its member universities have successfully resisted paying their student-athletes, until now.
In August 2014, Judge Claudia Wilken of United States District Court in Oakland, Calif., ruled the NCAA’s rules banning student-athletes from receiving payments were in violation of antitrust laws, according to the official court documents. The ruling opens up the possibility for colleges to pay football players in the NCAA’s top 10 conferences and all Division I men’s basketball players in 2016. Wilken’s injunction granted the NCAA the right to cap payments to student-athletes at $5,000 annually in the form of deferred compensation.
When colleges and universities have surpluses of millions of dollars, pay coaches million dollar salaries and have boosters who are paying off coaches’ houses (looking at you Alabama Football Boosters), student athletes can at least be given enough money to cover their cost of attendance. Many athletes reach their peak popularity in college and should be allowed to profit off while they still can.
A 2010 study by the Ithaca College Graduate Program in Sport Management and Media and the National College Players Association found the average shortfall between the monetary value of a grant-in-aid scholarship and the actual cost of attending college at 336 NCAA Division I colleges and universities is $2,951 a year.
To pay every single one of the 85 players on a Division I college football team $3,000, it would cost a program $255,000. That is less than a sixth of what USA Today reported was the average Division 1 Football coaches’ salary of 1.64 million.
Until 2016, the NCAA’s rules regarding student-athlete compensation are still in effect and under scrutiny. In an article in Sports Illustrated, Andy Staples pointed out the hypocrisy in the NCAA profiting from how athletes perform on the field.
“The players didn’t turn college football into a multibillion-dollar business,” Staples said in the article. “The conference commissioners and athletic directors did. Now, those administrators must deal with the consequences, and one is people are more willing than ever to pay for the autographs of the players they see on television every Saturday.”
Staples went on to point out what is possibly the NCAA’s biggest issue.
“The schools don’t want a truly open market for players, even if the courts may eventually force one upon them.”
An open market for players would more than likely concentrate talent into a smaller amount of teams, specifically the teams generating the most revenue and with the wealthiest boosters. While this may be somewhat worrisome, there are ways to encourage parody that don’t include completely leaving student athletes out of the financial equation.
During NCAA CEO Mark Emmert’s testimony during the case with Wilken, Emmert stated the tradition of collegiate athletics as a main reason for why students should not receive further compensation.
“Traditions and keeping them are very important to universities,” Emmert said. “These individuals are not professionals. They are representing their universities as part of a university community.”
What Emmert really wants to keep is the tradition of exploiting student athletes and using their skills to make college athletic directors and NCAA executives millions.
Emmert went on to say the college name was the driving force behind the revenue made from college athletics.
“People come to watch … because it’s college sports, with college athletes,” he said.
I would argue that college athletics are only popular on a national scale because they offer fans a look at the next wave of professionals.
Furthermore, in the case of star athletes they can bring in millions in revenue for their college programs. In January 2013, Texas A&M released the results of its study which found Heisman winning quarterback Johnny Manziel was worth $37 million.
“Research conducted by Joyce Julius & Associates shows that the redshirt freshman winning the prestigious trophy produced more than 1.8 million media impressions, which translates into $37 million in media exposure for Texas A&M,” Texas A&M’s statement said.
The hypocrisy lies in the fact Manziel was suspended during the 2013 football season for receiving compensation from selling autographs. Manziel should have the right to sell his autographs because his skills and triumphs have brought him his fame; Texas A&M is simply his platform to do so. Manziel was worth $37 million to Texas A&M. The cost of a college education is a fraction of that.
If you create a billion dollar product, you have to pay the people who are putting their bodies out there to do so.
Brian Frederick, a board member of Sports Fans Coalition and an adjunct professor at Georgetown University’s Sports Industry Management Program, said he believes the NCAA and fans of college athletics must adapt to the changing nature of student athletes.
“If we truly enjoy college athletics and want them to continue, we better start calling for changes now,” Frederick said.
“If we continue to throw more and more money into this broken system, it won’t be long before the whole thing falls apart and we all lose.”
The NCAA shouldn’t be allow to continue to exploit student athletes and use the integrity of collegiate athletics as their excuse to do so. If you create a billion dollar product, you have to pay the people who are putting their bodies on the line to do so.
Max Denning is a freshman journalism major who knows what it takes to lay it all out on the gridiron. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.