Who Wins: The Athlete or The School?

In an article titled “A Way to Start Playing College Athletes,” Joe Nocera proposed his own unique ideas to pay athletes. His first idea involves a salary cap with a minimum salary of $25,000 dollars per player. As he states previously in his article, less than 24 out of the 350 Division I athletic departments make money because of the expenses they incur. If he is aware of these statistics, where does the $25,000 per player come from? Yes, the coaches of many successful football teams make millions each season, however it is unlikely that an athletic department will dip into these salaries to begin paying the players.

Nocera continues on to state that these salaries “would obviously not make the athletes rich, but it would give them enough to live like typical college students.” The idea that $25,000 a year for each player is living like a “typical college student” is illogical. According to The Wall Street Journal, on average, students need about $1,000-$2,000 dollars worth of spending money each year. Not only is Nocera arguing that an athlete receiving scholarships, merchandise, and a plethora of other perks is not enough, but on top of that he is arguing that an extra $23,000 dollars is necessary. The common argument is that athletes do not have time to work, however an average full-time employee makes about $13,926.38 a year, according to The Huffington Post. Therefore, athletes under this proposed plan would make $12,000 more than an average full time employee.

As a supposed benefit, Nocera mentions that star players could be persuaded to attend a university solely through money. Is this what loving a sport looks like? Is this what getting the best education looks like? To me, this looks like a scheme, which involves spending money to make more money for the school. Instead, student athletes should be recruited by the services the school offers, the athletic department’s employees and qualifications, and most importantly, the education that a school offers. Yes, this would eliminate the issue of under the table bribing and corruption, but it makes the league become revenue-driven and not as authentic.

Lastly, Nocera argues the most ludicrous idea yet, which is that athletes should be allowed eight years to finish their four-year degrees. Although they would only remain eligible for 4, athletes would have this extra time to finish their degree- and for free! I think the idea that these student-athletes are students first is lost among these plans. Just because these students play a sport does not mean that their education should be put off for an additional four years. Upon being recruited to play a sport in college, athletes are fully aware of the commitment. To say it “is only fair” that this plan is followed through is insulting to the athletes that are capable of succeeding while playing sports, and the students that actually work full-time to afford their educations and still graduate on time.

His ideas are far fetched and do not benefit students or put their best interest first. Student-athletes should be students first, take responsibility for their educations, and play the sport they love for that sole reason.

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“Student Athletes Should be Paid as University Employees.” Debunking the Most Common Arguments as to Why

In an article for Forbes.com, by Marc Edelman, an associate Professor of Law at the Zicklin School of Business, he lists 21 reasons that he believes support the argument of paying college athletes as university employees. The sum of the article generally amounts to theme that student athletes are treated more like employees as opposed to students, and that the NCAA rakes in huge profits because of these athletes, but does not distribute them fairly. However, I maintain that not only would treating student athletes as employees have serious repercussions, but that athletes actually receive more than enough compensation from universities. Allow me to refute a few of the arguments that Edelman highlighted in his article.

  1. “The typical Division I college football player devotes 43.3 hours per week to his sport — 3.3 more hours than the typical American work week.”
    • 80% of college students need to hold a job while going to school (this often must contribute to their tuition/housing, which athletes don’t have to worry about) and on average this requires at least 20hours per week, in addition to approximately 45hours in class/studying.
  2. Although the NCAA claims college athletes are just students, the NCAA’s own tournament schedules require college athletes to miss classes for nationally televised games that bring in revenue.
    • Teachers are almost always required to accommodate student athletes and their schedules. In addition, students in the debate club also have to miss classes for tournaments! Should they be compensated too? Most would say know, since they chose to pick up that extra-curricular, and they will most likely be benefitting from it in the long run.
  3. Much of the huge revenues collected from college athletics do not go directly back into the classroom. Instead, a substantial share of college sports’ revenues stay ”in the hands of a select few administrators, athletic directors, and coaches.”
    • Coaches and administrators are NOT students. Thereby, of course they are considered employees by law and must be compensated as such. The majority of  the revenue from college athletics is cycled back into college athletics, in a way its somewhat of a self-sustaining system. Funding for the “classroom” is often from aggregated from tuition fees and grants. That being said, there is a plethora of ways as to how individual universities divvy up their funding, and who is to say which way is correct?
  4. At other schools, college coaches regulate student-athlete speech on Facebook and Twitter — even when their sport is not in session.

Athletes Bring in the Big money for College Sports? Should that Mean Anything to the Rest of the College Community?


According to Bobby Rush, a Democratic representative from Illinois, yes it should. In an Op-ed for the debate club on U.S. News, Bobby argues that student athletes are essentially the backbone of collegiate sports. He claims that all arguments against paying college athletes “are fallacious and anachronistic.” And instead poses the question of why we aren’t paying college athletes?

And that is a fair argument from Mr. Rush; however, I still remain unconvinced. Yes, college athletes aren’t paid monetarily, but their scholarships, free tuition, free housing, and plethora of gear and perks from their Universities add up to more than enough compensation.  Take for example most Resident Assistant positions on campuses. Often, students in RA positions are compensated through free housing, which can add up to thousands of dollars per year.

Also, proponents for paying student athletes have yet to answer how that would work? On average college athletics lose about 11 million dollars just to operating costs, so where would the athlete salaries be taken from. Also, once they receive a salary, student athletes would be considered employees of the university under the law. How would that impact their relationship with University as students as in addition to being employees? It’s easy to simply claim that student athletes should be paid, but it is just as important for proponents to have a clear idea of just how this would work, and the lasting impacts of such a decision.

For instance, in 1973 the NCAA replaced four year scholarships with 1 year renewable grants, instead. This makes athletes’ education reliant on their performance in games as opposed to their academic achievements. This goes completely against the original concept of scholarships which was “a grant or payment made to support a student’s education, awarded on the basis of academic or other achievement.” At the end of the day, Universities are institutions of learning, and I believe that it is important that we return to that mentality. If a student athlete drops out of their team or is not living up to their academic responsibilities,then their scholarships should be revoked. But not on the basis of injury or their profitability.