Debates About Whether to Pay Students Athletes

“Whither the NCAA: Reforming the System” is written by Andrew Zimbalist. In this article Zimbalist talks about the NCAA and paying student athletes. Paying student athletes has been a very well known subject for years in the past, but has never been approved by the NCAA. People all over have mixed emotions regarding paying student athletes; with some agreeing with it for various reasons while other disagree with paying student athletes.

There are multiple main points in this article, with each one covering a different perspective or topic about paying student athletes. The main points include market-oriented reform, educationally oriented reform, potentially exempt areas, and conditions for granting partial exemption, and courts or congress.

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Market-oriented reform is a very important section within this article because of the different things it considered. There are typically two different ways to meaningful reform. These include working toward marketization/professionalism and working towards educationally focused athletic centers/amateurism. Kessler says that the NCAA acts as a cartel and that student athletes do not receive compensation for all the money they bring into the university and athletic department on a yearly basis. This section also states that certain athletes in certain sports bring in more money for athletic department and university than what their actual scholarship does. It states that football and basketball player’s full ride scholarships have no match in terms of money when comparing it to the revenue that is funded through their sporting events. The athletes are being marketed on television and other media outlets, while the only pay they receive is their tuition to go to school. (2)

The second main point of this article is educationally oriented reform. This section talks about how athletes should be provided with fair treatment when concerning academics and anything else that benefits these athletes in a positive way. Athletes deal with controversy when it comes to academics because of practice time and travel time that a regular student may not have the chance to encounter. A bunch of acts have ether been passed or formed to deal with these issues. One of the acts that come to mind is the Sherman Act. The Sherman Act was put into effect to cover commercial logics that relates to NCAA rules and policies. The article does state that the Sherman Act is very hard to relate it to hybrid events. (7)

A potentially exempt area is the next main part of this article. This section is very important because it talks about the salaries of certain coaches that get paid more than members of the university, and the aspects that go into them as well. The NCAA is not accountable for salary limits that go to certain football and basketball coaches across the country. Some of these coaches make a five to ten multiplier amount of money compared to certain people who work for the university or are involved highly in these universities. (9) Back in time, Bear Bryant was a football coach for Alabama who was very successful. He always made sure his annual salary was $1 less than the universities president’s annual salary. Bryant did not believe in being paid more than the university president, even if the school wanted to he wouldn’t accept it. (10) In today’s day and age at Alabama. Nick Saben makes the most out of any coach in college football, and makes much more than the university president. Other sports around campuses do not bring in as much, therefore, the coaches of those teams do not bring in as much money ether. Some areas can be exempt because of school’s not having successful football or basketball programs, or even having a football and basketball program at all. Those schools that fall under that category are the universities that depend on the other sports to generate revenue, which can be a struggle at times if the market is not in complete forward motion.

The next main point is conditions for granting partial exemption. In this section athletes being given the same oppournuties as non-student athletes is talked about. Also, it mentions staying out of academic fraud as an athlete and how GPA is very crucial. Obtaining certain GPA’s throughout college can increase your scholarship, or you can lose your scholarship if your grades slip. This is one aspect that athletes also have to stay on top of besides their respective sport. (12)

The last main point of the article is court or congress. This is a short section that explains that intercollegiate athletics are also changing year in and year out. There is never a complete set and stone stand on just about anything anymore. Whether you are participating in intercollegiate athletics or coaching intercollegiate athletics, adjustment is crucial. Staying out of scandals and Title IX violations is huge if intercollegiate athletics wants to keep moving in the right direction. Going back to old ways will lead to old habits, as mentioned in the article. Being able to reevaluate what has happened and continue to better all aspects, will lead to better athletics and academics.

I feel as if the author addressed specific points and topics in a very valuable way. Certain aspects in the article are explain clearly so that you can interpret what is being said, and also imagine what it would be like to be in those shoes on both sides of the spectrum. Each main point I could relate to because I am a student athlete here at Indiana University. So many of my classes over the last 3 years have talked about paying student athletes and everything else around it. I could relate to specific topics more than others but for the most part, it was easy relating to all of them.

The parts that I felt are the most important and well written are market-oriented reform, exempt areas, and court or congress. Market-oriented reform to me is very important because if the university is using our name, image, or likeness on TV or promoting us in any way that we should be compensated for some of the money that is brought in by media contracts. Of course, most student athletes are going to say that they should be paid more than just a scholarship to represent a university as a student-athlete. If you are a football or basketball player at Indiana University, you should compensate more money than other athletes in different sports because of the revenue that those particular sports bring in. As a wrestler here at Indiana University, I know that the wrestling team doesn’t bring in a whole lot of money. I still feel that we should be compensated for the little amount of money we bring in compared to the high amounts like football or basketball. There should be some sort of exemption for this because we are bringing in revenue for not only the athletic department but the university as well. Staying clear of academic fraud has been an issue for some universities in the past when it comes to taking paper classes or having professors let students slide by just because they are a student-athlete. If a student athlete is not putting in the required work to pass their classes, then the professors or university should not allow them to compete for their respective sporting team. As an athlete, you are committing to being successful in the classroom, as well as in your respective sport. If you are not successful in the classroom, then maybe you should not be participating in intercollegiate athletics. This way it is a fair process for everyone and scandals are avoided.

Overall this article has been very interesting and helpful in reading because it provides an incentive of what should happen and what should not happen within intercollegiate athletics, regardless of the fact if you being paid as an athlete or not. The standards should not change, even if athletes being to be paid. I don’t think that athletes will ever be paid because there are too many cons that outweigh the pros when it comes to this specific topic. Further research will be implemented in other classes I take throughout the rest of my time at Indiana University because I am in the sports management and marketing field. I looked forward to learning more about this long drawn out process.

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Debates About Whether to Pay Students Athletes. (2021, Oct 18). Retrieved from