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College Athletes Should Get Paid: Heres Why

College athletes should get paid.

But wait. That might not mean what you think it means.

It doesn’t mean that college athletes should be living like professional athletes – raking in signing bonuses, making and spending millions.

But it does mean that college athletes should be getting something in return for their efforts on the field.

“But they are getting something – an education.” Absolutely yes – one of the greatest advantages to being a student-athlete is that you get money to go to school. But look at the numbers. For simplicity’s sake, let’s limit the argument to NCAA D1 football programs.

Why College Athletes Should Get Paid

college athletes should get paid

Image courtesy of ESPN

The University of Alabama football team has won three of the last four national championships. It also pays its head coach, Nick Saban, more than $5 million a year. But that’s pennies compared to how much money the school is making from its varsity sports. In 2012, the school’s athletic revenue topped out at $124.5 million.  The football program alone was responsible for $82 million.

That’s a lot of money brought in by a roster of 85 players. And since the players are responsible for this revenue, they deserve some kind of compensation.

Trying to bridge the disconnect

It seems like there is a huge disconnect – athletic programs bring in tens of millions of dollars, while the players live as regular college students. Just like every other financially-strapped student, these athletes are getting towed from parking lots, waiting for their money supply (in this case scholarship checks) to pay rent and living off of fast-food dollar menus.

But that’s just the thing – student-athletes aren’t regular college students in any other respect.

They have mandatory study halls. They have two-a-day practices. They have curfews. They don’t get holiday breaks if they make it to the post-season. They have practices, games, restrictions, playbooks – all on top of going to class and being expected to make honor roll (schedules also make it near impossible for athletes to get part-time jobs). And of course, the practices don’t end when the season does. It’s a spring, summer, fall and winter commitment.

What makes this disconnect so apparent is that inflation has changed everything about NCAA football – ticket prices, the size of stadiums, the cost of parking, coaches’ salaries. Everything has gotten an upgrade – except player compensation.

Are College Athletes On The Short End?

Image courtesy of CBS Sports

Image courtesy of CBS Sports

CBS Sports columnist Gregg Doyel looks at Oklahoma’s football program and how it’s grown monetarily over the past 50+ years. He makes a pretty good argument in favor of players being paid, saying they should get paid just from a numbers standpoint. For example, Oklahoma’s coach makes 300 times more than what he would have made in 1950.

Not to mention, Doyel points out that some players leave college owing money.

No Name? Then No Need To Pay

Schools are smart about it. The NCAA is smart about it. Video games are smart about it. They don’t use names of players – just likenesses. Although maybe the video game part of that is changing, as explained in the video below:

Colleges sell jerseys, just without names on them. Video games use their stats, hometowns and numbers – just not their names.

As long as the swag is without a name, players don’t have to get paid. Works out nicely for everyone – except the athletes they’re building their success on.

And all that money the programs are bringing in? It’s only going to increase with the growing popularity of online networks. Not everyone might be able to go to a game, but you can bet that every sports fan is all over the Internet. If you’re not in attendance on game day, no big deal. More and more conferences are creating online alternatives. The ACC, SEC and Big 10 have already made steps (and headlines) by using the Internet and TV to form their own networks to make even more cash. Their profits will increase – but player compensation will stay the same.

Are you starting to catch my drift here?

Could Payment Decrease Media Scandals?


There is another big reason college athletes should get paid. When players do try to earn a little extra on the side, they – and their programs – get punished.

Last year, the Ohio State Buckeyes went undefeated. They put up a perfect 12-0 season under a brand new coach. But they were banned from any post-season games because previously, numerous players traded memorabilia in exchange for goods. Their program subsequently crumbled under an NCAA investigation.

The University of Georgia’s A.J. Green was suspended for four games in 2010 for selling his used game jersey for some pocket change. Recently Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel caused a media storm when he was suspended for a brief 30 minutes of football after he allegedly sold autographs.

Let’s take a look at an incredible example in D.J. Fluker. A Louisiana native, Fluker grew to be one of the best offensive tackles in the SEC. But before he won multiple National Championships at Alabama, Fluker was living out of a car for weeks with his mother and siblings after they lost their home in Hurricane Katrina. He was also a student at Tuscaloosa when a tornado ripped through, devastating the college town, killing 52 people and destroying Fluker’s apartment in the process.

Now, Fluker is in the middle of a scandal that accuses him and other SEC players of taking money from Luther Davis, a man allegedly funneling money from agents and financial planners to players, according to Yahoo Sports.

Increase Pay, Decrease Black Eyes

Is it possible that if players got additional compensation they wouldn’t seek out ways to make money that are harmful to their programs? What would the NCAA do with all that free time, if they’re not spending it trying to investigate and punish football programs? What if graduation rates and grades influenced how much compensation players ended up with?

Obviously there’s no way to tell outright if providing players with some kind of compensation would reduce the amount of players breaking the rules, or increase the amount of student-athletes graduating for that matter. But it is certainly worth trying.

Wouldn’t it be crazy living in a world where ESPN headlines aren’t dominated by pay-to-play scandals?

Maybe as crazy as living in a world where college athletes should get paid to do a job that pays their colleges, their coaches and their programs – everyone but themselves – but still don’t.

What do you think? What should the logistics be? Are players worth more to schools than their scholarships? Let us know in the comments below.

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29 Responses to College Athletes Should Get Paid: Heres Why

  1. Sue Lively November 27, 2013 at 7:32 pm #

    Def should be paid… They are exploited. With all the billions generated off of the athletes, they def should be given more than scholarship.

  2. chris doe December 1, 2013 at 10:48 pm #

    You’re certainly right. I was given a full scholarship to a D-1 school, MSU to be exact. I was also expecting a child, so I knew I wasnt going to be able to balance both, especially since I knew I wasnt getting paid to play. College athetes should be paid for their hard work. They break their backs for their coaches and end up injured. and for what? all to be left with thousand dollar doctor bills. Is coach gon pay that? Hell naw !

  3. Lance Copley December 2, 2013 at 8:37 pm #

    I actually am writing my persuasive paper for English on why college athletes should be paid. so i hope its okay to use you in it. Thanks for the resourceful information.

  4. taylor December 3, 2013 at 10:40 pm #

    Writing my English paper on Why College Athletes Should Be paid? and this has helped greatly
    but really we should get paid i’m a track runner and we had to practice in the rain today we bring revenue to the school just by committing

  5. hanna December 16, 2013 at 3:51 pm #

    this is very well said! im writing my speech about why college athletes should be paid, because im hoping to be a college athlete someday. and with the commitment that I give, I hope to be paid a little. so I don’t have to balance a part time job, a sport, and holding a very high average to prove im serious. I hope things change! thanks a lot for the inside info! it will help a lot to get my point across !

  6. Phillip December 20, 2013 at 7:17 am #

    I am writing a speech for my class and this has helped a lot! I am also a football player with ten scholarship offers and this will give me questions to ask coaches

  7. Bill Gates January 2, 2014 at 8:29 pm #

    Why don’t the NCAA president get minimum wage

    Why don’t the football coach get minimum wage

    Why don’t all the Admin get minimum age.

    NCAA is scam scam scam

    Call every lawyer in America.

    Call every shark in America.

    Working for Free/Working for a piece of Free Frozen chicken

    Sue the NCAA..

    Biggest Scam Scam Scam in America.

    NCAA is biggest Scam in America.

  8. etai January 9, 2014 at 7:52 pm #

    yo in 6 grade writing my report to ): but txs for all of the infermarion really helped me txs (:

  9. brandon January 23, 2014 at 9:25 am #

    i think college athletes should get payed a portion of the money…. they are being put on video games and there names on the backs of football jersey and there risking their health which is why they should get payed for playing college ball.

  10. notcr7 January 31, 2014 at 8:47 am #

    writing my englisg essay and im using this thanks a lot, i hate my english teacher

  11. erika February 2, 2014 at 4:09 pm #

    everybody I ask keep saying they shouldn’t get paid because non-athletes struggle to even walk through the doors of any colleges yet are athletes are working their buts off and getting hurt on the field
    you just need to look by all that stuff and look at what they are doing for us so at least you can cut them some slack

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  1. College Athletes Should Get Paid: Heres Why | S... - January 10, 2014

    […] College athletes should get paid. But wait; that might not mean what you think it means. Read on to find out what we mean  […]

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