College Athletes Already Get Paid
The vast majority of college athletes don’t generate any revenue whatsoever. Every single sport besides men’s football and men’s basketball doesn’t make money with very few baseball/women’s basketball programs being the exceptions. Even a great program like UConn women’s basketball was financially carried for the majority of its existence by UConn men.
Then the problem is how many football/basketball players even matter? Big time programs will turn out fans even when the teams aren’t good, so how much do star players even generate? UConn, Auburn, and Ohio State lost money by going to the bowl games this past year. Of course they made up for it on the back end with merchandising and next season’s ticket sales, but the money isn’t straight forward.
So if men’s basketball and football are the only sports that matter revenue wise, let’s evaluate the actual student-athletes. These two sports have the lowest graduation rates of any sport. Most of the kids have no business getting into college. They’re getting an education they have no business receiving.
An LSU football player only has to score a 16 on his ACT and 2.0 on his core classes. The average LSU student admission is a 25 ACT and 3.0 on core classes. So these guys are getting an education they don’t deserve. Do you remember how expensive books were? They don’t. They got them for free.
Then you look at room and board. They live for free. They live in athletic dorms, on campus apartments, off campus apartments, etc. all places better than the average student. Their food is free. Feeding the average D-1 football team costs several thousand dollars a day.
They get free group and one on one tutoring. This is something that no student receives unless they have some type of disability. These are able bodied young men. At many schools, they have their own computer labs and academic centers.
Then, there’s things that’s not talked about… like free food, free drinks, cheaper leasing of vehicles and such from local businesses. They live quite unlike the typical poor college student who eats Ramen noodles while waiting for the next student loan direct deposit. In the recent Ohio State scandal, it’s been documented that Terrelle Pryor has driven 8 different cars since he’s been in Columbus. Dozens upon dozens of players and their families have bought cars at heavily discounted prices at Ohio State. (Update: Terrelle Pryor’s friend stated that Pryor got free food and drinks from many restaurants, bars, and convenience stores around Columbus. Rachel McCoy, Colt McCoy’s wife, told ESPN Radio that there were men all around the Texas program offering free meals and other benefits to players.)
I have yet to hear anyone explain to me a system that can maintain gymnastics, track and field, swimming and diving, lacrosse, golf, tennis, field hockey, wrestling, soccer, volleyball, cross country, etc. while paying players from the revenue generating sports. People constantly bring up the billions of dollars that the NCAA generates, but they fail to realize that it is spread amongst over 1,100 programs and over 400,000 student-athletes. Many programs are barely scraping by. There are programs that have to shut off air conditioning, limit the hours their lights are on, count every single sheet of paper that is photocopied, pay student workers for 20 hours of work when they work 60, etc. just to survive.
How do you prevent income disparity between programs? How does Middle Tennessee State compete financially with Notre Dame? How can you impose revenue sharing when schools have different sports, different needs, different facilities, etc.? How do you deal with the differences between public and private schools? Would the Mormon Church at BYU and Catholic Church at Notre Dame want to revenue share with institutions that sponsor things that are in direct violations of their religion?
How has collective bargaining worked out for the roughly 1,700 NFL players? How would I feel if I told you that there are 10,200 available scholarships at the 120 Bowl Championship Subdivision schools. Once you pay them, they’re working. They have a right to organize. Good luck.
I hate it when people are like, “Oh, they come from a poor family. They need money. They have kids. They need money.” I honestly don’t feel bad for their families. Tons of teenagers have kids and they have to take care of those kids themselves. Their families are poor. Get a job or go to the pros if that’s your concern. You were irresponsible in having kids when you were unable to support them. I don’t understand how a poor family’s plight is the NCAA’s responsibility. They are giving these athletes an education. Use that education to take care of your family.
I also hate when people talk about athletes making money for schools. The truth is the vast majority of money made by schools are from alumni who donate back to their alma mater. Go look at the endowments of Harvard, Yale, Princeton, MIT, Stanford, Penn, Columbia.
Outside of Texas, USC, UCLA, and Michigan (and Stanford)… college athletic powers aren’t wealthy. These endowments make more each year than the profits from big time college football programs. You can combine all the donations of every single athlete who has attended Oklahoma Sate and multiply their donations and what they generated by 100… and you won’t come close to T. Boone Pickens.
Why should we reward all the athletes when only a few a dozen players (if you’re a great program that generates a lot of pro athletes) are financially successful? The real money generator for a school is the hundreds of thousands of students they have produced who consistently make money throughout their lifetimes and give back to their schools.
Over 23,000 undergraduates pay rough $6,000 (or $16,000 out of state) in tuition and fees each year at LSU. This doesn’t include the housing, supplies, books, and food costs. Yet, we’re supposed to pay 85 football players and 13 basketball players on top of exempting them from paying for school? Another little fact, only 14 programs out of 1,100 NCAA athletic departments made money after operating costs and scholarships. If you want to look up your own school… http://ope.ed.gov/athletics/GetOneInstitutionData.aspx (Keep in mind line 16 which is the revenue minus expenses line does not include the educational costs of the athletes in the program. It’s just the operational expenses.)
While I don’t think you should “pay” athletes, the rules need to allow for the real cost of attendance. If these athletes are full time students and are putting almost full time hours to their team with practice/training/games that there’s no room for part time jobs. Even the busiest college student finds time for part time jobs. That’s the difference. A full scholarship should be exactly that… a full scholarship.
It’s ridiculous to me that every single time a program gets punished their fans make the argument that these players should be paid. They are paid. It’s pretty simple. I wish I got my degree without any loan debt while hundreds of thousands of people exalted my existence, but I guess that’s not enough for some people.