Payment for play of college athletes—truth or wishful thinking?


With top-tier college football and men’s basketball players being estimated at a value to the schools of more than $100,000 per year, there has been talk on whether or not they are entitled to at least a part of that worth.

Many people believe that the scholarships students receive are payment enough for all the work and effort they put in. However, some athletes have to live below the poverty line because they don’t have the time to get a job with the number of hours they put into practices and playing games.

With each season that goes by, a gap grows between what  student athletes actually need and the scholarships they are receiving.

Several questions arise on this issue of universities paying their athletes: Where would the money come from in order to pay the students? Would they pay every player or only the ones who actually played? How would it be possible not to violate Title IX, which regulates scholarships as one of its aspects?

One of the reasons people are in favor of paying students is to help them stay in college and not be drafted to the NFL early. Some analysts think it would allow student athletes to obtain their full education before moving on to the professional sport of their choice.

However, if students do stay and complete school, they run the risk of injuring themselves and not being able to play after they graduate. This causes many students to accept a draft and not run the risk.

Also, if players are paid and don’t have to worry about extra costs that aren’t covered, it could prevent their taking money illegally from agents and/or boosters. This might still occur, but it would help to cut down significantly on  under-the-table money.

The issues with staying in compliance with Title IX are the biggest reason that extra scholarships or pay to athletes will most likely not happen. For the majority of universities, the football and men’s basketball programs are the two areas that bring in the majority of the revenue for the athletic department.

According to Title IX, all programs would have to increase the scholarships they offer to make programs equal for everyone or cut sports regardless of gender and if they made a profit.  If the schools didn’t do that, their federal funding would most likely be lost.

Smaller schools that do not make as much money as large ones would be at a disadvantage. Most athletes would choose to go to the universities that are able to give them good scholarships and additional money to cover all of their expenses rather than small schools where they only receive smaller scholarships. 

If universities started giving additional money, they would have to determine where that money would come from. With the exception of a few, most athletic programs do not make a profit. This, in turn, makes it even harder for them to cover the cost of living for all athletes at their school.

With no certainty on additional scholarships, it looks as though more help for athletes won’t be a reality.

Author: Brooke Morgan

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