Should College Athletes Be Paid?

By Travis Boland
Updated: March 21, 2005

ORANGEBURG, S.C. — It seems every year during the NCAA Tournament that a certain discussion will inevitably rear its ugly head. With the tournament making an exorbitant amount of money, people will ask, should athletes be paid for playing the game? The answer is simple. No.

I don’t care if the NCAA Tournament nets one trillion dollars in total revenue for schools, networks and advertisers, you can’t pay student-athletes to play the game. You always hear this arguement during football’s bowl season.

If you pay athletes to play you will set a precedent that many schools will not be able to live up to, and create a slippery slope that the NCAA will slide down.

Some make the argument that student-athletes are already paid, with the full scholarships they receive by the school. Classes, books, room, meals, tutors … free.

These scholarships are valid as long as the player keeps up with his or her classes and is worthy of having the scholarship by the university’s athletics standards.

Some student-athletes don’t take advantage of their “free rides” either by not going to class or leaving early and not getting a diploma, but that’s not my fault. If a student-athlete decides they don’t want to go to class and learn about Emily Dickinson and philosophy proofs, then that’s the student-athlete’s decision.

He or she still gets to go to the cafeteria for their free meals, and their dorm room where they can play X-Box all day, for free. As long as they can shoot a basketball or throw a football, they can have just about anything they want.

When you have a class with an athlete, and they have that pretty tutor taking notes for them while they try to stay awake, it kind of gets under your skin.

For those who don’t believe that a scholarship is enough for student-athletes, and that they should still be paid, how about recognizing that paid athletes are called professionals?

Why do people love March Madness, and BCS bowls? Because they are played by amatuers who play for the love of the game, and for pride, rather than the almighty dollar.

In professional sports it’s often during a blowout you will see players on the sideline laughing and goofing off, because they are still going to get paid, but in collegiate athletics, those losses hurt, because you don’t get anything for losing, only winning.

If you wanted to pay student-athletes, would each player make the same amount of money, or would it vary by sport? You wouldn’t pay a football player the same amount as an equestrian rider or softball player.

How would you decide what each player earned? Would it be by the revenue that it generates, because there are quite a few programs that would never see a dime, because nobody ever goes to their meets.

Another problem is that some schools would not be able to compete with the wages of other schools, and that would hurt recruiting.

If you have Ricky Recruit looking at schools and one is going to pay him $500 a week to play football, while the others are only able to offer $200 a week, which one do you think he is going to take?

I know people think athletes aren’t that smart, but they know bigger and smaller numbers.

You might also create the “Yankee System” in collegiate athletics. If you have boosters with deep pockets, they can go out and get any recruit they want.

They would build powerhouses at their respective schools, and destroy parity among collegiate athletics. The last time I looked, many people didn’t like the Yankees because they could go out and buy whoever they wanted.

How would the NCAA be able to track all of this stuff? They can’t even put their fingers on the illegal stuff that’s going on under the table, how do you expect them to keep up with what everyone is doing when it’s lega?

You know some schools will end up paying more for certain players. If Ricky scores an extra touchdown, he might have a couple extra hundred on his next check.

There’s too many problems facing paying student-athletes, and I know that the NCAA and universities take advanatage of them, but if the world has taught us anything it’s that if you are good enough and hire a good agent, you can get it all back in professional sports.