Is it time to pay collegiate Athletes?

October 19, 2011

Political Theory

Giants football is something that I am passionate about and it upsets me to see Giants players laughing and hugging opposing players when the team loses a heart breaking game. What many fans including myself fail to realize is this is a job to them. The same way my father gets up and goes to the hospital each day to perform surgery on needy patients, Eli Manning goes to Metlife Stadium each Sunday to perform his job.

Eli Manning and Michael Vick hugging after a recent game

The love of competition is what makes college athletics so exciting. There is no paycheck for these athletes at the end of the season. For college athletes the end of the season brings a feeling of accomplishment for capturing either a conference title, a bowl game victory, or a national championship. On the other end of the spectrum leaves athletes with a feeling of emptiness and failure with a burning desire to succeed the next year. At this time though, college sports are slowly transitioning towards professional sports as is evident by all the scandals facing college football. Maybe it is time for the NCAA think about transition. Plenty of players are only in college because they can not legally make the jump to the professional leagues at such a young age. As a result, what harm would be caused by giving these young men enough money to fill their gas tanks and have a good meal after practice?

One would be hard pressed to log onto or flip to ESPN on TV without viewing a story about yet another NCAA violation and it stems from one central issue, money. Eventually the NCAA is going to have to take a look at itself  as an governing body and ask, are the rules currently in place outdated? Do we have to face the facts that agents are going to have contact with the players and players are going to accept gifts? Is it time that the NCAA athletes get a piece of the profits they make for their home institutions?

Sports Illustrated cover highlighting the OSU scandals

When it comes to the recent scandals one need look no further than our hated rival Ohio State and realize that maybe the rules are outdated. Ohio State had seven current players, one former player, and their former coach suspended as a result of NCAA violations but if we were to take a closer look at the situation we could understand that this wasn’t necessarily a case of players being selfish, it was a place where these young men who grew up with nothing had a chance to give their families something. In an ESPN article one can find a quote from suspended WR DeVier Posey’s mother responding to allegations that the Ohio State players sold merchandise and rings for some extra cash, “They looked around to see what they could do to help [their families]. There’s no crime here. None. They’re not involved with agents. They didn’t steal anything. They didn’t borrow anything from anybody. It was theirs. Nobody told them it ‘almost belongs to you.’ It belonged to them.” If the NCAA paid these athletes maybe they wouldn’t feel the need to sell these rings that they worked so hard to earn. If they had the extra spending cash to give to their families, they wouldn’t feel the pressure to break the rules.

One could take it a step further and look into the profit that the NCAA makes off of the likeness of these athletes. In the 2007-2008 school year the University of Michigan made $99,027,105 as reported by the Orlando Sentinel. Additionally if I were to go to MDen to purchase a Denard Robinson number 16 jersey I would be paying at least $75. Denard would not get any of this money which many view as unfair. As a result, should the NCAA look into these numbers and designate an appropriate percentage to go to students? After all these young men and women work extremely hard during the seasons and their off seasons to make sure that they can compete at the highest level. Combined with class credit hours, studying, and practice they may not have time to get a job to support themselves.

As I stated earlier, one of the greatest things about college sports is the passion that the athletes play with. The lack of a paycheck at the end of the year makes it easier to believe that the athletes play for the love of the game. If the NCAA were to implement salaries for athletes just to supplement their lifestyles I would be opposed to the idea. If salaries were implemented to descrease the number of rule infractions it would only make the sport better. I believe this has a very utilitarian feel and it could be related to the greatest happiness principle. Utilitarian theory attempts to achieve the most happiness for the most amount of people. If the NCAA implemented a payment system for the players they would achieve maximum happiness as their lives would be easier. The other students would have increased happiness as they would get to watch their teams play at full strength each Saturday as opposed to the current situation where many teams players are suspended, and the NCAA is happy that they appear to have their athletes in check. As a result, everyone is happier and the sport can thrive again.

So what does this all mean? If the suspended Buckeye players were given a reasonable paycheck would they have had to sell their championship rings? If athletes were given a piece of the almost 100 million dollars that the athletic department receives would they have to commit NCAA infractions? Is there a even a right answer?



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27 Comments on “Is it time to pay collegiate Athletes?”

  1. jacobdockser Says:

    I generally agree with your blog post, however I think the problem isn’t with the players breaking the rules but that the rules themselves are flawed for this day and age. The cost of living in the United States is rising, as evident by the choice today to raise social security benefits by 3.8%, and with that, the cost of books, off campus living, and other goods clearly increasing.

    While NCAA rules allow for the cost of college and room and board to be covered by the university, yet the cost of books (I paid nearly $500 this semester) are not covered. Like most 18 and 19 year olds, these players do not have the kind of money to cover that expense. Therefore, they are tempted to take money from a overzealous alumni, or sell their game worn jersey. I do NOT blame the players, they are simply doing what it takes to live life at the bare minimum. It is the financially charged actions of the Universities and NCAA that neglects the best interests of the STUDENT-athletes in order to increase profits made OFF of the kids.

    In his song, “Varsity Blues,” current hip-hop artist Wale mentions several athletes that were caught in scandals pertaining to money, Reggie Bush, Cameron Newton, Maurice Clarrett and also states ” They always in their class, they always at their practice, while they bumming for cash, you made it grip off a bracket.” To me, this couldn’t be more spot on. The reality of the situation is that student-athletes make millions of dollars for the Universities yet, cant even buy a tank of gas. That alone could take away any love the players have for the game.

    While some athletes are drafted into professional leagues and paid millions, a vast majority are not and must find another way to make money. A recent article examining athletic financial records stated that an individual college player should be paid $125,000, yet when these kids graduate, they often find themselves deeply indebted in loans they took out to buy books.

    Whether or not college athletes get paid, the love of the game will not suffer, the seemingly endless hours of work outs, practices, and other sacrifices weed out those who don’t love the game, not money.

  2. carweiss Says:

    While I understand the points you make in your post, I think it is important to keep in mind that players actually do lose their love for the game once they get payed. Look at NFL, NHL, MLB, etc., players – I don’t think you can say that their love for the game is the same as when they were in college, essentially playing for “the fun of it”.

    Also, look at how many lockouts have occurred this year (NFL and NBA) because they don’t believe they are getting paid quite enough for the entertainment they bring. The only reason why there is no lockout in the MLB is because they don’t have a cap on their salaries. It makes the players look bad when they ask for more money and they are losing fans every second. Pay college athletes, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they same kind of controversy would stem. Players getting angry that are being paid less than others, players only going to specific Universities because they would get paid the most – the issues would be endless.

    We all love college sports because, as students, we don’t feel as far away from our fellow student-athletes. Paying them would turn players into believing they were better and on “another level” and that connection that we previously felt between the players would dissipate.

    The amount of amenities players receive is already way more than the average student and I don’t think it is fair to increase it more. While college sports serve as the major form of entertainment for many students, if you pay them, why not also reward the students who discover a brilliant scientific issue or mathematical equation? Those students are helping to make the world a “better” place and many times, in Universities that place such a large emphasis on sports, get pushed by the wayside.

    I think by paying athletes, their drive to win will increase, but their drive to improve and become better people OVERALL will be overshadowed by any money they would receive. In this sense, while the competitive factor that we all know and love will become even higher, the love and joy behind playing will be lost.

  3. mjgeis Says:

    I see a few valid points, but I view the problem with scandals (e.g. OSU) as more of a problem of self-control than a problem of financial under-appreciation. My roommate encountered an interesting episode this weekend at the Michigan State game. He is in the marching band, and after the game the marching band was rushed by the MSU football team, harassed, cursed at, and a few kids even got spit on.

    The problem is the same, whether it is selling memorabilia for tattoos or attacking an organization that had nothing to do with the competitive aspect of the game. It’s a problem of entitlement. These athletes feel like they can get away with anything, and the normally passive attitudes of coaches and university staff only exacerbates this problem. The reason that the OSU scandal is given the title of “scandal” is because of the efforts that went into concealing it. If people stopped making excuses for athletes, maybe they would learn humility.

    I think humility is an essential step that must precede payment. Otherwise it’s just an added sting when the Spartan who spat on your marching band uniform drives off in a Porsche while you and four friends pile into your 1997 Geo Prism (with all of your instruments. It’ll be a nice tight fit.) I understand if your idea of compensation doesn’t provide enough money to afford a Porsche, which is why I am preemptively suggesting that anyone who reads this post engage in a little willful suspension of disbelief.

    Furthermore, there would have to be some sort of payment for other university clubs. Take the Michigan Democrats. They may be instrumental in electing representatives anywhere from the mayor of AA to state senators. But, none of their officers or members hold salaried positions. Instead, the club is about gaining campaigning and political experience in preparation for a potential future career; this is exactly what football needs to be for these players. They don’t need to be paid now, they need experience now so that they can be paid later. That’s just kinda how college works.

  4. benhenri Says:

    Like mjgels, I am also appalled by this preference to begin paying college athletes. I definitely agree with carweiss’ opinion that these student-athletes already receive extreme amenities, so, adding a yearly salary would simply be unnecessary.
    I think those that have commented so far have pointed out many notable facts, yet, have neglected to declare an incredibly notable fact: the point of going to college in the first place is to learn. And, currently, I assume, the majority of student-athletes prioritize their sport over their schoolwork because either their sport is so time-consuming or because they have this rather conceded higher notion of themselves. This highlights carweiss’ other idea that our connection, as students at the same university, would immediately break with these athletes if they were to begin getting paid. Now, if these student-athletes began to be paid, they would probably overlook, or even completely abandon, their schoolwork. This would only lead to a downward spiral. The worth and primary concern of education in the modern world would be drastically devalued.
    And, because these student-athletes are receiving full scholarships, they are already obtaining more opportunities than they could have imagined without attending any college at all. Furthermore, these student-athletes do not HAVE to become professional athletes in their future. Because they receive a college degree from a top university, they are already more able to obtain a good job and provide for their family.
    Perhaps, a more significant question would be to ask how the university can begin paying for other necessities, such as books, required by certain, poorer student-athletes. Even though jacobdockser includes off-campus housing in the same group of necessities as books, I disagree. These student-athletes can simply live in a dormitory for all four years of their college career.

  5. rachdavidson Says:

    I thought your post proposed an interesting question: does paying athletes make them lose the love of the game? Does it make it all about the money? While I feel we could speculate on this idea for hours, one does not truly know unless they are in the situation. My family friend is a professional gymnast, who recently won fourth in the Worlds Competition last weekend. She is a year younger, and has been recruited for UF next fall. I called her to ask her opinion on this question and I think her response was rather interesting.

    First she explained that because she is going to be a college athlete, she cannot accept any prizes that come from her success. In many cases she has turned down thousands of dollars, in order to keep her scholarship. However, she told me that her parents have decided that if any of her winnings exceed the amount they will be saving from a scholarship, she will take the prize and defer college. My friend is not a fan of her parents idea: “I’d rather go to college than have the money, it makes my life a little more normal.” She farther explained that it was about the love of the sport, and that if she could make it to the Olympics and stand on the podium with the gold around her neck than that was amazing, but if she was stuck in her tiny gym for the rest of her life that would be okay too.

    In the end, it seems paying these athletes is a reward they do not need. They compete because they love the game; they compete to hear the cheering fans, to feel the success of a win, to carry the pride of their school. To pay them would simply take away from these other factors.

    “I don’t need the money now,” my friend said, “let them pay me later on, when it’s my job. Right now, I’m just doing it because I love the sport.”

  6. cbeidler Says:

    The idea of paying collegiate athletes is a little ridiculous, in my opinion. In a way, athletes who are on scholarship are already getting paid. In exchange for athletic participation, players receive a portion (or all) of their education for free! Sounds like a pretty sweet deal to me considering the cost of tuition lately.

    Yes, it is certainly true that college athletes (especially here at UM!) work hard. Much harder than many people realize. There is hardly time to keep up with school work, let alone find a job to help cover expenses. However, this is a choice that athletes are making each and every day. They know what it is they are getting themselves into when they “sign up” so to speak. No, loans are not ideal. But thousands of students do it every year. I took out my first loan this year, not because I wanted to, but because I had to. Sometimes that is just life.

    It is not only love of the game that creates the atmosphere of college athletics, but the love of SCHOOL. Look at professional sports. Players get traded and switched around all the time. There is no loyalty to the team they play for. In the end, it’s all about money. Our athletes here are proud to represent Michigan, to play for Michigan, to win for Michigan. They love this school, love their team… all a salary would do would be to take this away. Love of the school would turn into love of money. Isn’t there enough of that type of attitude in the world?

  7. ngamin1614 Says:

    I think others have stated this already, but isn’t receiving a full ride already kinda like getting paid? This is a very interesting issue though, and it’s important to think about. Like you said, you can see quite a lot of examples on ESPN of college players who commit a violation. Cam Newton and Ohio Stupid (I REFUSE to say their real name 🙂 ) both have been huge stories. Personally, I think the NCAA is getting a bit TOO lenient with their penalties for schools. The NCAA basically in Cam Newton’s case turned a blind eye to the events that transpired with him. They had evidence and everything, but he and Auburn got off scotch free because they blamed it on his dad. Ohio Stupid also I thought got off a bit easy, that Posey kid who you mentioned did the same violation multiple times, and really should be suspended for the whole season rather than up to the game against us.

    Anyways, I digress. NCAA students should not be paid. As I said before, receiving a full ride really is like being paid to play sports. I know a lot of these kids fail to make it professionally after they graduate and then are basically screwed, but honestly, they received a free education. If they can’t use that free education properly, then they have no one to blame but themselves.

    And NCAA players receiving money would take away from the love of the game. Kids, like someone else said, would go to whomever offers them the most cash. This is ridiculous. There would be no need for recruiting anymore, coaches could just offer a certain amount of money that is more than other schools offered, and then that kid would go to their school. A student should go to school where they feel most comfortable and where they fit in the best, not where they get paid the most.

    Furthermore, if all student athletes were paid the exact same thing, then it would still not work. There would just be constant debate, like you said, over receiving more money. It would just get ridiculous after a while. Also, again like you said, the love for the game would be taken away. Watch an NBA game versus a college B-ball game. The passion difference is really quite noticeable and completely has turned me off to the NBA. The NCAA, instead of thinking about actually paying players, should crack down even harder than they have been in order to stop kids from committing violations.

  8. adamstillman2011 Says:

    I do think that some reform of the NCAA rules needs to occur; however, these athletes should not be paid to play for a school They are student athletes. In some aspects they are paid. Most athletes, especially football, are on full ride scholarships in a sense they are being paid the cost of tuition to not only play football but also get a world class education. Money should not factor into an athlete’s decision to pick one school over another. If athletes were paid smaller schools like Boise State probably would not be able to lure in the athletes at the same rate that schools with major boosters like Oklahoma State’s T Boone Pickens. These boosters would end up paying all of these players and we would just have another version of the NFL before the real NFL.

    Some of the NCAA rules are ridiculous, like in some circumstances coaches cannot buy their players dinner. That does not affect competition and should be allowed; however, college athletes should not be paid to play.

  9. jeanrichmann Says:

    While I see some valid points in this post, I find the concept of paying college athletes to be ridiculous. Yes, NCAA is making a large profit off of colligate athletes, however, these athletes are benefiting greatly from the University they play for. Athletes receive hundreds of dollars of clothing, shoes, and athletic wear on top of the scholarship money they are rewarded. All athletes also receive special resources, such as exclusive study areas and tutors (Michigan’s campus has the AC or academic center which is designated for athletes only). Many students are also admitted to the University of Michigan on the basis that they are an excellent athletic, nothing at all to do with academics. For example, I have a friend who is an athlete for the University of Michigan who was admitted with only a 19 on her ACT. We all know there is no chance a non athlete student who be accepted with this ACT score. Not to mention, when these athletes do enter classes, they may receive beneficial bias based on the fact that they are an athlete. What student or teacher would be able to not demonstrate bias to Denard Robinson? Lets face it, athletes get a lot of perks that normal students on campus do not. It is ridiculous to also considering paying them on top of all the other benefits they have as athletes.

    This extra benefit towards athletes would create a favoring of the minority, and discrimination towards the majority. Malcom X, an advocate of the civil rights movement, dealt with a similar case. During this movement, minority races were discriminated against by not receiving basic voting rights and the ability to use the same facilities as white people. The benefits athletes receive is creating a similar situation. Athletes receive extra clothing, scholarship money, and exclusive facilities that average students on campus do not receive. Paying athletes for their performance would only increase the inequality of the situation.

    Yes, athletes do put in extra hours of practice each day, however, athletes should not be paid for these extra hours because they are already receiving payment in the form of campus benefits and scholarship money. Many colligate athletes play because they love the sport they play. Heck, if I could play sports in college that I played in high school I would be content with the fact that I enjoyed playing. I would not need the incentive of money to participate in the sport.

  10. Lilian Baek Says:

    Upon reading this post, I immediately argued against paying college athletes. Considering room and board, tuition and book, I would say they receive enough compensation. Some may argue that these commodities do not suffice, however, the idea of pay-for-play is unnecessary. Another issue that arises from this topic is regarding which groups of athletes deserve to be paid. Would women’s sports team receive the same amount? If not, how would men receive payment without violating Title IX, which states, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance…” ( In addition, where would the money come from? After pondering on this issue awhile later, I changed my mind. The NCAA and power heads behind college sports are exploiting their players with nothing in return for them. It is unrealistic that anyone would argue against paying the people who make the events possible in the first place. Thus, the money NCAA is making should be distributed to a certain degree.

    This issue is a prime example of capitalism at its finest. How could one justify paying football and basketball players, yet lacrosse, baseball, soccer, and hockey players go unnoticed? Furthermore, some may argue that distributing funds equally is an impediment. But wait, is it not an impediment when it involves the influential people within the NCAA? I call this hypocrisy. Although I consider it just to pay college athletes, I realize that it is very impractical. Colleges, for the most part, are struggling financially so asking to pay salary on a regular basis is not feasible. If college athletes cannot be paid directly, they should have the option of engaging in entrepreneurial pursuits in the meantime. Like the DeVier Posey’s mother, as the blogger mentioned, I see no harm in players “selling merchandise and rings for some extra cash.” However, it is clearly shown that others believe otherwise. All in all, although it seems infeasible, I believe athletes should be rewarded beyond room and board, housing and books. Considering how athletes are exploited to make others money, they should be compensated.

  11. Jake Weimar Says:

    I agree that college athletes should be paid for their services. Athletes have been accepting payments for years it is not just a recent trend, though it may seem since it has been in the news so often lately. According to Sports Illustrated writer Michael Rosenberg in a previous Sports Illustrated article years ago it was just the Ivy League schools paying players.

    Players should be allowed to either accept payment, or sell game jerseys and other memorabilia. It’s the free market they have goods and skills that colleges and fans want. So they should be paid. The NCAA has more than enough money to go around and it will help the NCAA to be more competitive against the pro game. Then only ways to solve an institutional problem like this is to change the rules.

    This is a problem of the market, which could easily be solved. The problem has been going on for years; this is one of the topics we are discussing this year the ruler and the ruled. The ruler is the NCAA and they are not paying the ruled which is the players enough. So they have to penalize schools and players to enforce their power.

  12. aclieb Says:

    The topic of this blog is obviously a very contentious and topical issue. Like the author said, there are constantly issues of college athletes getting in trouble for taking money or selling memorabilia. In addition, many current professional athletes get their schools in trouble for things they did while in school that does not become known until after he or she has left school. However, whenever I hear debate about whether or not college athletes should get paid, I feel one thing, immense frustration.

    The author of the blog asks if athletes are paid, will they still commit NCAA infractions? That frustrates me. Why should college athletes get paid to behave themselves? The majority of college athletes do not even break the rules. They are able to conduct themselves properly and do not need incentives to behave. In my opinion, it is such a childish and unfair idea to say “We will pay you, so please do not break our rules and get us in trouble.”

    Another argument is that these college athletes cannot afford to be at college without breaking the rules and selling their own memorabilia or taking money or something along those lines. This frustrates me too. There are out of state kids paying around fifty thousand dollars to be here. Now before everyone attacks me, I know everyone’s money situation is different. Some people are more than able to pay out of state and in state tuition. And there are those that are getting no help and have to pay with their own money and student loans. This website shows what a full ride for a D-1 football and basketball athlete covers
    So my question is, what do these students need all this money for!? Everything of necessity is paid for. I acknowledge I may be coming off as insensitive or naïve here, but it’s just my immense frustration. I have to pay for all of these things out of my pocket, a little of my parents’ help, and student loans. These college athletes are getting all of this covered by the university and then they go and break the rules to get more money to buy who knows what with? Then people argue that it is right for college athletes to get paid? It sickens me.

    It is true that universities make tons of money off college athletes and some individual athletes single handedly make universities tons of money. Yet, rules are rules and they’ve been this way for a long time. Student athletes in my opinion do get paid. They get paid thousands and thousands of dollars by not having to pay for things like tuition and room and board. That, in my opinion, should be enough.

  13. ianbaker2041 Says:

    I’ll begin by saying that no one should be a Giants fan. It’s really all about the Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins, and Celtics. Boston pride! But that’s beside the point.

    I like that you bring this up because last week was a horrible week to be a Red Sox fan. Our clubhouse is in disarray as some of the star leaders of the Red Sox team pack their bags and head to other teams (such as the Cubs). Even David Ortiz, a long time Red Sox player, mentioned that he would be willing to consider playing for the Yankees. A few years ago, ARod suggested that he might play for the Red Sox. In arguably sports’ greatest rivalry, it seems that the players themselves don’t care, and this is the problem that I think you’re getting at. Like you, I do not want to see my team’s players talk about going to the “other” team. I personally could never play for the Yankees over the Red Sox because I was born and raised as a Boston fan, brought up in a sports culture that treats support of the Yankees as heresy. The fact that David Ortiz would even suggest going to the Yankees shows that even from one of Boston’s favorites, it really is all about the money, and the Yankees have plenty of that.

    If college sports became a paid business, I worry that the same thing would occur. Michigan players don’t just talk about going to Ohio State because they have a sense of pride in the team and in the tradition that professional sports lack. Love of the sport should be the one and only reason that athletes play at the collegiate level, and once money gets added into the mix, the cash trumps the love of the team and sport. Besides, if the NCAA were ever serious about paying college athletes, it’s hard to fathom where they would come up with that sort of money. Sure, you could pay for football pretty easily, but what about the vast majority of sports, games that one doesn’t have to pay to attend or has to pay very little? After athletic costs are covered, that token amount of money would probably struggle to buy each teammate a slice of pizza, far less provide any type of salary. If we turn to tuition money to pay athletes, then we’re essentially asking students to pay for something that they may not care about at all. I’m in marching band, and I love football games. My roommate, however, doesn’t care at all about football. Why should he have to pay for college athletes when he doesn’t watch or support any sports at all? I don’t think that he should.

    While college athletes in all sports certainly put in their fair share of hours in practice, paying them to do so as is done in professional sports would not only be very difficult to do but would also undermine some of the competition associated with the game.

  14. Phil O'Donnell Says:

    Regarding the payment of collegiate athletes, seemingly a few questions must be considered in order to truly reevaluate the current situation and NCAA rules/ regulations.

    Firstly are the implications in the introduction of paying collegiate athletes.
    Philosophically, people will further question what college is primarily intended to function as for student-athletes; academics or a glorified ‘Little League’ system for professional sports associations to pick future athletes from? Some may argue that the current college athletic system is almost already like the aforementioned ‘Little League’ system, given that the current major college varsity athletic programs (specifically football, basketball and hockey) all ultimately leading to the potential drafting of a college athlete by a professional organization. Yet at least presently there is an idealistic, if not naïve, notion that college is primarily for educational or academic purposes and hence student-athletes are learning or becoming better prepared for the job market/working world, during their time at college. Whether this is true or not, the payment of athletes would certainly not encourage athletes to concentrate more on school.

    Secondly, there are the practicalities surrounding the payment of collegiate athletes. This point has been made by many analysts on EPSN or other news sources, but it is universally acknowledged that the payment of collegiate athletes opens a Pandora’s Box of problems to deal with and seemingly raises far more questions than it actually answers. These financial dilemmas include, but are not limited to questions concerning;

    1) Are all athletes going to be paid, or only varsity athletes? Are ‘walk-ons’ paid?

    2) Are both male and female athletes going to be paid? Equally?

    3) Can individual colleges determine which athletes to pay or will this be determined by an external organization, such as the NCAA? Is this fair or does it impede on the sovereignty of private institutions?

    4) Will payment be determined on profitability of the sport or by the talent/achievements of the athlete? Does this idea open up a bonus system?

    5) How will smaller schools financially compete in sports? Will the ‘tiers of quality’ only further be enlarged by the payment of athletes?

    6) How much can you pay an athlete? Are all athletes going to be paid the same?

    7) Are injured players still paid? How long would the contracts for athletes be?

    8) Where does the funding for payment come from? Very few schools actually
    make a profit from varsity athletes and usually it is only from the major athletic programs (( Does funding subsequently come out of tuition funds? Will this increase tuition costs even further?

    9) Or is the football program’s profitability going to pay for the less profitable programs athletes? Is this fair?

    10) Would this create an even larger divide between athletes and non-athletes on campus?

    Thus, it is obvious to observe that even through just these 10 simple questions, there is a monumental amount of uncertainty and impracticalities surrounding the payment of student-athletes. Thus, it could be adjudged that the reason the NCAA are seemingly so unenthusiastic about regulation change is due to the absence of a clear or coherent strategy to change to.

    My personal opinion is that student-athletes should not be paid a fixed wage or salary so to speak; but rather, in addition to the existing allowances for tuition, room and board, should be given a predetermined stipend to alleviate the pressures of livings costs associated with college. I personally believe that they deserve this stipend, even if some athletes don’t necessarily financially require it, due to their endeavors and the potential overall profitability which they grant their colleges. I envision that the regulation of this stipend would be done by the NCAA and all schools would have to pay the same amount, hence it would not be a free-market bidding system for athletes. However, I am also resigned to the potential failings of this proposal and also the likelihood that there will emerge a more effective method to reform the current NCAA regulations regarding the payment of collegiate athletes.

  15. Greg Kraus Says:

    Anyone who watches Michigan football understands that terrible feeling that you get in your stomach the moment right before a 300 lb linebacker crushes Denard. What many of us fans fail to appreciate is that on a normal football Saturday, collegiate athletes like Denard Robinson sacrifice their bodies for their schools’. Think about last weekend’s game against the Spartans. In that game, Michigan State may have displayed the worst sportsmanship that I have ever seen. I remember one play in particular when Denard was literally picked up off the ground and slammed head first into the turf by a 300 lb linebacker after throwing a pass. Although the Spartan player was penalized 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct, nothing could repair the damage that was inflicted on Denard’s head/body. In an article in The Wall Street Journal featuring Denard Robinson, Denard described his postgame ritual. At one point, he describes the experience of stepping into a 50-degree bath of ice after a game. The process seemed like something that nobody in his or her right mind would ever want to experience, and yet it was something that Denard went through on a weekly basis.
    I guess the point I am getting at is that it is unfair for the NCAA not compensate college athletes for the physical suffering that they go through on and off of the field. Although I think that paying college athletes a large salary would detract from the competitiveness of the sports, some sort of compensation should be mandatory for the pain and suffering that our athletes go through. They should at least be allowed to sell things that they personally earned themselves. Imagine that you worked really hard on a school group project, but after it was complete, someone punched you 5 times, and then picked you up and slammed you to the ground. Even if you performed very well on the assignment, you still got beat up, and the good grade that you deserved to receive for your hard work did not show up on your transcript. Essentially, this is what is happening to college athletes. They get beat up during a game for performing well, but they do not get to receive any of the benefits of their hard work. Instead, the school reaps the benefits of their work, and pockets millions of dollars every year. In all seriousness, what good is a nice ring, when your family is at home struggling to make ends meet. I know for a fact that I would take any means necessary to help my family. If that meant that I had to sell a trophy that I earned, then I would certainly do it. The main point is that athletes sacrifice a lot on a daily basis to their school’s, and receive very little in return. This issue is unjust, and definitely needs to be fixed by the NCAA.

  16. amgille Says:

    I disagree with the notion of paying college athletes. Yes, I understand that they have financial troubles, but today, who doesn’t? They have their entire college education paid for, something that many don’t have, and I think this should be enough payment for them. How hard is it really for them to get a summer job and pay for their books? Being five hundred dollars in debt, to me, is far better than being $50000 in debt for an education, let alone books on top of that. Yes, I realize that they have a talent, but then I would contend that bright students should be paid for their research on campus that they choose to do out of their own love for knowledge and experience as they are helping to better the overall educational ranking of the school, not just the BCS standings.

    Even though they are putting their bodies through physical trauma, it is the sport that they play and they should know this. They played their respective sport throughout their lives without being compensated for this physical hardship. As a competitive dancer and a soccer player, I CHOSE to play the sport and I knew what the consequences of that would be. Today, I continue to have bad ankles and knees from thirteen years of activity, however, I did the activities because I loved them, not because I had to or because it was my job. They play the sport because they love them and maybe even they hope that it becomes a job, but they need to realize that it is not yet a job.

    I understand that the idea of the school making millions of dollars off of their players is not what it should be, but in the long run, they provide the athletes with something that will last a lot longer than compensation for playing a sport. They provide them with an education for the times that they won’t be able to make money in the sports world, an education that can only cause them to make more money than expected. Especially from a university like ours, who’s to say that their degree isn’t worth much?

  17. bonannianthony Says:

    The question of whether or not to pay college athletes is a hot button issue nearly every week on ESPN. I personally love college sports and the competition that results from it. However, I don’t think student athletes should be paid for playing an amateur sport. One can make the argument these student athletes are paid. Without a doubt they are compensated enough. With full tuition, room and board, and other perks some student athletes are being “paid” nearly 50,000 or 60,000 dollars per year. As student-athletes, they are students first and athletes second.

    Today, with the current economic climate there is no way student-athletes can even be paid. According to, only 14 of 120 FBS (Division 1) football teams actually made a profit. As a result, if only 14 of 120 schools made money on their football programs how could they justify paying the athletes with money they don’t have. In addition, if football players get paid it will open a huge problem. For instance, does every player get paid the most? Does a first string quarterback get paid more than a third string linebacker? These questions are impossible to answer. If student-athletes begin to get paid some will argue their worth; and with no one person in charge of a player’s worth, which sounds very bad, there will no doubt be problems. As Hobbes says, without a strong central figure making decisions, there are bound to be issues. With the paying of student-athletes another very large problem would arise. I would wonder if the kids who play a “non revenue sport” would get paid also.

    Overall, I think by beginning to pay college student athletes a whole new door of issues will arise. The scholarships and extra benefits are good and well deserved for what they do. The student-athletes are still exactly that, “students”.

  18. schoiidaho Says:

    After reading through the blog post, I see the point that the author is trying to make. However, like many above, I do also disagree with the idea of paying the college athletes.
    Although athletics is a big part of college life especially in Michigan, the main priority of all students is doing school. We are all here to learn and gain valuable knowledges and skills that will hopefully benefit us down the road and provide us with a bright future after college. Also, even though the athletes can sustain physical injuries, they know and accept the consequences and play in whatever athletics they are involved with because of their passion for the sport. Thus, it will always thrive, and we will not have to worry about sports ever dying out.
    I understand that some athletes are from abject poverty, but paying them to play does not make much sense because the school already provides them with a scholarship that covers the entire tuition. An entry to Michigan, let alone on a full paid tuition, is something very special very few students get to enjoy. NCAA even tells us that a select few go on to play professionally; most athletes go on to pursue careers outside of athletics. A college education will open a lot more doors in the future and provide more opportunities to better life and success. Also, even if the students have to take out some loans to pay for the books, I agree that having to pay back $2000 after undergrad years is a lot easier than having to owe $200,000.
    In my opinion, rather than paying the athletes to play, it seems like a better idea to take that money and grant more scholarships and financial aids to students who truly need and deserve them. I have met a good number of students, both in-states and out of-states, who are forced to pay their way through college. Also, I have many friends back home who had to turn down their first choice schools and attend in-state schools mainly due to financial reasons. If you really want to learn, worked hard in high school to get to whatever school you want to end up at, you have every right to be there. The school should take care of these students because they really want to be here and will truly vaule and appreciate the education they will receive.

  19. wjpetok24 Says:

    Quite simply, the era of collegiate athletics, specifically major college football has changed from the glory years of which Marc alludes to in his opening post. No longer do our athletes compete for respect or glory, driven out by the corporate and commercial interests they can readily expect to receive as recompense for their efforts.

    Major collegiate football has been overrun with scandals over the last decade, and a major black eye has been delivered. The NCAA, its governing body, has refused to compromise with its outdated policies and control and exploit the student-athletes. Given these institutional tribulations, the overall NCAA business model is a resounding failure in today’s world, allowing for the athletes to become products. Thus, student-athletes in competing in major collegiate sports should no longer be considered “amateur” athletes.

    David Meggyesy’s article on the current distorted state of big-time college athletics supports this claim. The mission of a student-athlete participating in the NCAA has been steadfast since its inception in 1905, “to maintain intercollegiate athletics as an integral part of the educational program and the athlete as an integral part of the student body” (Meggyesy, 24). With this being true, college sports programs should be opportunities for amateur athletes to enhance their educational experience while at school. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. Even though student-athletes are given full academic scholarships, they are misguided in their academics and used for revenue purposes. While the amateur rules of non-profit and education-oriented goals are stressed, in actuality the NCAA and its member schools are reaping large benefits as profitable commercial enterprises. The student-athletes become means of profit, with the athletic departments of major universities essentially becoming sports entertainment businesses (Meggyesy, 25). All the while, the athletes under the original NCAA mandate as “amateur student-athletes” don’t get paid for their athletic labor and the revenue that they help generate.

    The actions of organizations such as the NCAA have allowed for the troubles amongst student-athletes.Meggyesy notes that, by fostering the widening contradiction between the educational mission of the university and a for-profit sports entertainment enterprise on their college campuses, college officials have opened the door wide for the exploitation of revenue producing athletes. They have created a hypocritical system that allows corruption, dishonesty, and unfair dealing to be the rule” (Meggyesy, 27). This statement by Meggyesy further articulates the need for a radical change in the revenue-producing college sports world. The blending of professional athletes and student-athletes has been taking place all along, with corporate interests seeking to maximize profits while trying to avoid any appearance of exploitation of the student-athlete and the ideals of higher education. A system must be put in place to fully address the discrepancy in student-athlete services, properly compensating those bringing in millions to their respective athletic departments in a fair and honest way.

    With this inverse relationship between educational and athletic success, it is no surprise the current state of affairs. Further rationalizing the issue, Meggyesy makes the claim that, “the vast majority of revenue producing athletes’ athletic careers end in college; less than one percent of Division 1A athletes gain a professional team roster slot. After four years of athletic labor, most walk away from their university without a college education or worthwhile degree” (Meggyesy, 28). This point describes the nature of college athletics currently affecting their student-athletes —an abusive system. Any funding towards these athletes would help to ensure financial stability later in life considerably, especially those whose professional aspirations do not come to fruition.

    Meggyesy, David. “Athletes in Big-Time College Sport.” Society 37.3 (2000):
    ArticlesPlus. Web. 12 June 2011.

  20. JustinMandeltort Says:

    College athletes in no way should be paid to play in their respective sports. Playing hard and giving it your all shouldn’t require incentives when it comes to playing for your school. College athletes represent their schools and the student body, money shouldn’t be a reason to do so. College athletes give it their all for reasons like pride, respect from their peers and the hopes they can eventually make it to the next level.

    I understood the points of this post, but the only college sport that the author speaks about is college football. Yes, recently college football has had some problems with agents intervening and people paying athletes, but thats an issue that only involves a few schools. College football, except for the playoff system, is a flawless, exciting college sport that attracts millions to watch every saturday. Other than college football, all other college varsity sports seem to have no problems with agent interference or money. College football can’t be the reason for all college athletes to be paid. Stricter penalties and rules need to be imposed to get college football back to where it used to be, not paying kids to play a game.

  21. ndreynolds864 Says:

    College athletics is somewhat more entertaining to watch than professional sports because of the emotion and desire to achieve a goal in a shortened time frame. But the question of paying college athletes money is really ridiculous. We already pay them through tens of thousands of dollars in scholarship money so they can go to prestigious institutions all over the country. They are given free or discounted educations so that they can be more profitable as business leaders than professional athletes someday. If that isn’t considered pay I don’t know what is. Something better than money is an opportunity and with college athletes providing them the opportunity to go to school for free and get a great education is something that can benefit them and their families more in the future than in the present. If a college athlete is getting paid for performance on the field what incentive does he have to go to class. This would turn your argument into well college athletes don’t care anymore so why don’t we pay high school athletes. It might be unfair that Denard doesn’t receive money for a jersey sale but this the nature of amateur athletics. It’s purpose is to develop your athletic skills and your life skills in order to succeed in more than sports after college.

  22. samhock15 Says:

    The question of whether or not collegiate athletes should be paid for their skills is one of many parts, and one that has been thought about for many years. Many people have argued that athletes are already paid, through their scholarships and other compensations they receive through their teams. The problem with this is that many of these college athletes do not have enough money to comfortably live and feed themselves, because their athletic commitment is taking away their time that they could be using for a paying job. Many of these athletes have worked countless jobs throughout their childhood in order to support them and their families, and now with their incredible time commitment to their sport they are forced to give up their jobs, which ultimately takes away their spending money.
    In my opinion, it goes against the economic principle in the united states to not partially compensate the athletes for the money that they are working for. As you said in your post the University of Michigan made $99,027,105 in 2007-2008. All of this money would have not have been made it was not for the countless hours that these athletes put in to put the best possible product on the field. Personally, I think the athletes should receive a percentage of this profit, because ultimately they are they ones making this money for their universities. I am not suggesting that collegiate athletes should be paid nearly as much as professional athletes, but by giving them a small percentage of the money they made, you are allowing them to live more comfortably and ultimately improve their overall quality of life.

  23. jrsmyth177 Says:

    I strongly disagree with paying college athletes. There is absolutely no point in telling a player that you will pay them a certain amount of money just as long as they do not break the rules. What positive result would the game gain from this? Yeah an athlete may not break the rules, but paying them money takes the pride out of the game. College football has has a very rich tradition, which I believe should not be altered. Ever since 1869 college athletes have played this gamed, and not once has a player been payed a salary. It is not a game meant to fulfill the necessities of one’s economic situation, rather college football is a game played for the pride of one’s school. Athletes should want to play to represent the school that they play for, not a small payment that comes with it.
    The best thing college football has is the underdog. Look at Boise State, a college team that nobody really knew about 7 years ago has now been in the top 10 for the past 4 years with a combined record of 51-2 and a miraculous win over Oklahoma. Now Boise State is always a contender in the national picture. This would have never happened if colleges started paying players. This leads me to my biggest concern with paying players, recruiting. The powerhouse schools like Michigan, Oklahoma, Texas, LSU, Alabama, Florida, and that school from Ohio, would be able to pay a college athlete more money just because they have a higher revenue than smaller schools like Boise State. If college players were payed, of course an 18 year old kid is going to want more money. As a result the powerhouse teams would have the best recruits, just because they have more money, while the smaller schools would have to settle on less talented kids. Boise State is so successful now because they can convince a kid to play for their program, and not for the money. The kids pick the school that they want to play for. With money in the picture a recruit is not going to want to play for the school they want to play for, rather they are going to want to play at the school that offers them the most money. There is no pride in that.

  24. dkap7 Says:

    Paying College Football players seems like an intuitive idea that could spark players to stay in college longer and there could be potentially less allegations against schools and teams, however, shouldn’t it be enough that most of these athletes are going to fine Universities free of charge. Although these athletes may not see this as being payed, the last time I checked a college education can be as pricy as 50 or 60 thousand dollars. Times this by four and these players are being given around 200 thousand dollars in expenses during their four year career at a University. Instead, most college athletes are becoming greedy and sly in the way that they accept money from school boosters. Although of late there has been a lot of scandals regarding money and college athletes, people need to realize that even with new regulations in place that allow college athletes some compensation for their play, there would still be under the table payments and allegations regarding the payment of athletes. This issue will always be disputed no matter what changes are made.

    Almost all big time football schools cheat the regulations of the NCAA in someway or another. A lot of this sly behavior is unseen by the NCAA committees and therefore not revealed to the public. Teams only get in trouble when they make blatant attempts at bribing athletes into enrolling at their university. I am not saying that it is alright for these times to make under the table negotiations with players, but I am saying it is more common then the media makes it out to be. Therefore, instead of paying these STUDENT/ATHLETES, note that student comes before athlete, the NCAA needs to take this rule involving boosters an athletes more seriously, so that Universities are scared of breaking the rules, leading to a more honest league.

    One famous example of a violation of these rules dealt with Nevin Shapiro, a booster, and the Miami Hurricane football team.

  25. Michael Wagner Says:

    This is a great topic!
    I have to say that I primarily agree with the writer of this post. I think the NCAA has done a great job of NOT giving in to paying college athletes. The exposure of corrupted programs in the last 10 years like Ohio State, Miami,and USC have resulted in ample punishment of both players, coaches and programs.

    An important element that needs to be mentioned is the idea of the student athlete. The NCAA needs to make sure that athletes are not being paid because, in theory, these kids are in school first as a student, and secondly as an athlete. Out of all the talent that comes in to college sports programs very very few make it to the pros as a steady job. I think a local name that stings a little bit for all of the Detroiters here, is Joey Harrington. Joey Harrington was a phenomenal college athlete. Second in running for the Heisman and drafted second overall, Harrington had such great promise and signed a big fat contract with the Detroit Lions. Skip ahead 10 years he’s struggling to maintain a job as a third stringer, jumping from team to team.

    By paying college students to perform on the field would distract them from the real reason they are in college, which is to get a degree and help them get a job when their professional sports career falls through. Already there is a stereotype that many college athletes just take easy classes and don’t get reliable degrees. To some extent this is true and it already goes to show that some athletes get caught up in the delusion that they will continue to have the success they are having now (Big fish in a small pond, anyone?)

    I think the NCAA needs to maintain the policy they have now and maybe even do more to encourage student athletes to focus on their studies. In a time of economic downturn, the chance of a professional sports career falling through is too high to not have a back up plan.

  26. jeanchaw Says:

    I do not believe college athletes should get paid because that would ruin the point of professional sports. What you have to realize that the majority of college football players won’t make it to the pros thats why they go to college so they have a fallback plan. The NFL exists because of the fact that college football players don’t get paid.

    I also believe that they should remove the regulations of younger athletes not being able to go to the pros. If the athlete is willing to enter the draft with the risk of not being chosen for a team there should be consequences. They shouldn’t just ban high school athletes from going pro.

  27. maxmoray Says:

    I always used to think college athletes never deserved the right to be paid. For me, tuition, room, board and books were compensation enough. However, recently I read an article by ESPN writer Michael Wilbon who argued in defense of the players. He laid down the point that over the next thirteen years, the NCAA and CBS/Turner Sports have concluded on a 10 billion dollar deal in regards to airing March Madness. Likewise over the next four years a deal has been made between the ESPN that pays the BCS roughly five-hundred-milllion dollars. It seems to me, that for the college athletes who put their life on the line for these schools and fan bases, that they should deserve just a small portion of the overwhelmingly large pot of money. I understand, we live in a capitalistic society where the rules aren’t fair, but at this point the money has reached an unmeasured toll.
    However, I only believe profits should be given to football and men’s basketball players. Thats right, lacrosse, baseball, soccer, hockey, and softball players should get nothing. Why do I think this? The same reason the top professor at Alabama won’t ever come close to making the $6 million dollars Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban will make this year. That is, our society runs on this capitalistic framework, which gives the most money to those that have the largest and most important rolls.
    Unfortunately, there are still many reasons as to why I understand college athletes do not get paid. For one, they are still kids and though most D1 athletes excelled in High School, that alone isn’t enough to earn a big payday. Likewise, the amaturism that is college athletics, allows the little guy to compete with the highest recruits. They are all on an equal playing field, where winning is the only issue at hand.
    To many college headlines these days read about agents and boosters paying their top recruits. This issue must be addressed, and to solve that, one must look into the rule book about whether top football and basketball college athletes should be paid.

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