Should Athletes Be Paid
Should College Athletes Be Paid George McCray Research and Writing Professor Pittell Strayer University Corruption, scandals, suspensions, firings and a systems that is systematically flawed all the while the fact of the matter is that the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is a organization that is bringing in billions of dollars each year yet the labor force generating the money gets a scholarship that many athletes believe doesn’t pay enough for everything that is needed on campus so this leads the author to have to take a look at if athletes need to be paid.
I will outline numerous problems that are going on in college athletics and possible solutions to problems - Should Athletes Be Paid introduction. I will take a look at the scholarship itself to determine if that is sufficient enough for campus life. The bottom line is from the outside looking in is that there is a lot money going into the hands of administrators and coach’s with none going into the people shedding the blood sweat and tears.
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It would seem that the system in place at times, wants to make the student athlete stand around with their hands out accepting all and any money that they can find from an outside source, which is in violation of NCAA bylaws concerning amateur sports. The NCAA is an association of 1,281 institutions, conferences, organizations and individuals that organizes the athletic programs of many colleges and universities in the United States and Canada. It is headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana. They are the watchdogs over big time college sports.
So at the backing of Mark Emmert, the president of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), a series of improvements were pushed through after he took office. His improvements called for slightly higher academic standards for college athletes, a full scare review of the NCAA’s fat rule book and a new provision giving universities the option of offering four year scholarship. Current one year scholarships are renewable at the discretion of the coaches, who can effectively cut injured or underperforming players.
That sounds like the real world with a real job where if you do not perform your job fully, you will be fired. The changes Emmert placed in effect amounted to nibbling around the top of the cake but not getting into the center of the cake where the problems lie. This system allows for scandalous behavior from the outside world such as being involved with a so-called booster which we will call problem number one. The system now is that since student athletes receive a full scholarship they are not entitled to receive any improper benefits.
Some of the rules of the NCAA are way off base like giving an athlete a cheeseburger could lead to suspension as him accepting an improper benefit if it is found out that I am a booster or friend of the student-athlete. The coach can receive all the benefits he desire as can the school itself. That is another problem that needs to be addressed. This type of situation is what set back the University of Michigan with the Ed Martin scandal. Martin was a local Detroit businessman who gave money and items to poor and local kids that excelled in sports.
Once he gave those items to some of those same kids, who turned out to be the Fab Five,(Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King, Ray Jackson) when they went to Michigan it violated the NCAA’s bylaws. Another of the changes Emmert set up was allowing Division I schools to pay their athletes a $2000 stipend. When asked was this a form of payment Emmert replied that “If we move toward a pay-for-play model- if we were to convert our student-athletes to be employees of the university – that would be the death of college athletics” They would be subcontractors. Right now they are unpaid subcontractors.
They sign with the school, when they sign their letter of intent, like a contractor would for starting up doing business with you. The student-athletics does things to benefit the university as does the contractor does things that is within that contract to do benefit you. The only difference is where the contractor gets paid for his work, student-athletes watch as the administrators are the one’s getting the fat checks. Of course, after the proposal came out college athletics directors and conference commissioners began protesting the new stipend by claiming of all things “they could not afford it”.
Within a month, 125 of them had signed an override request. So the NCAA decided to cave on the idea. Some of the students who had already signed that deal got to keep the $2000 stipend yet others who take money for a different type of deal, say with an overzealous booster for selling some of their team paraphernalia, as a few Ohio State players did violated the NCAA’s rules regarding amateurism and were hit with multi-game suspensions in addition to getting the coach Jim Trassell (see insert) fired.
That is the second problem of the system that needs to be addressed. It all starts with money and the players see it and know it. They see that the NCAA’s college football and men’s basketball are huge commercial enterprises that generate more than 6 billion in annual revenue. That is more revenue than the National Basketball Association (NBA). People can see the television deals like the one signed with Turner Broadcasting and CBS sports to the tune of 14 years and 10. 8 billion dollars for the rights to the men’s basketball championship aka March Madness.
They play the college football game,(that uses their likeness), and basketball game that was stopped in 2010, that is distributed by Electronic Art Sports (EA Sports) In the year 2011 the game had over 3 million copies of the sold. They see the distribution of the dollars going into certain funds which could be distributed into the hands of the workers themselves. The NCAA likes to think that they are protecting the players from excessive commercialism which is hypocrisy in its proper format. Athletes see the 100,000 seat stadiums packed to the fullest. They see their jerseys hanging for sale in stores.
March Madness itself brings in roughly 800 million to the NCAA meaning more money continues to flow into NCAA coffers. With the basketball tournament’s 2011 television deal, annual March Madness broadcast revenues had skyrocketed 50-fold in less than 30 years. These huge deals have led to corruption of intercollegiate sports. To some extent it has compromised the integrity of the universities says Brit Kirwan, who is the chancellor at the University of Maryland system. The best and only way to have full reform is to understand the truth, “That college football and men’s basketball are big businesses”.
The best way to do this is to openly acknowledge the commercialization of the process and pay the workforce. This glaring, and increasingly untenable, discrepancy between what football and basketball players get and what everyone else in their food chain reaps has led to things such as breeding a deep cynicism among the athletes themselves. Players aren’t stupid. According to prominent sports agent Leigh Steinberg, “The dominant attitude among players is that there is no moral or ethical reason not to take money, because the system is ripping them off”. This system is flawed and enables misconduct to flourish.
Since the system is flawed enough to allowing morally wrong to be done some student-athletes conduct themselves morally wrong also. In the last year there were sexual abuse scandals at Penn State football and Syracuse basketball. A University of Miami booster who ran a Ponzi scheme , provided dozens of Miami football players money, cars and prostitutes. He is incarcerated now. Every year team’s play to be rewarded a bowl game. Well there was a financial corruption scandal at the Fiesta Bowl that saw the firing of the chief executive and the indictment of another top executive.
This is part of the problem with all the money going from hand to hand and pocket to pocket. It’s always about the money So you have numerous problems that are alarming like the outstanding deals for television, boosters running rampant around giving players money, agents paying players, schools covering up sexual abuse scandals, administrators selling out the school for the top dollar, student getting suspended for selling their merchandise and the list goes on and on as long as it revolves around the mighty dollar.
Speaking of the dollar, let’s take a look at how the dollar is spent on the student-athlete, to find out if they should be paid something while they are at the school playing for them. What is the value of a student-athletic-academic scholarship for basketball and football? How much more beneficial is it for the big two as compared to the other sports. In looking at this I have had on one-sided lenses because a lot of money is flowing to the school and the NCAA but the average college football player is walking around with $1420.
00 worth of cash in their pockets monthly, according to Flint Harris’s article written for the “Holy Turf”, which explores the passion of college football. $1420 is not bad chump change monthly for a college student let alone for some folks in the real world. The rabbit hole goes deeper. What a student-athlete receives may be enough to justify not paying them because they also receive free room and board for freshmen while the upper classmen have to get the authorization for off-campus housing which is paid for the school.
They are given a full Pell Grant, which is worth $5,500 a year and never has to be repaid because it is a grant, not a loan. Football players get $5,500 each year to do with what they want. If the student-athlete qualifies for a Pell grant, they also get $500 of clothing allowance each year. According to Bylaw 15. 01. 6. 2 in the NCAA Manual, each athletic department can use the student-athlete opportunity fund money for anything but financing salaries, scholarships (though paying for summer school is allowed, but a football player’s scholarship covers summer school), capital improvements, stipends, and outside athletic development.
The NCAA gives each school a chunk of money each year…roughly $200,000 to help student-athletes out with whatever needs they may have deemed fit by the senior staff member in the athletic department in charge of the money. This money is for the entire athletic department. Regardless, if a student-athlete needs money to pay for gas, more new clothes, or a plane ride home, they can legally get money for that. Student-athletes also have access to a special assistance fund too. According to NCAA bylaw 16. 12.
2, money from the special assistance fund may be requested as additional financial aid (with no obligation to repay such aid) for special financial needs for student-athletes. I know one school used this fund to fly their basketball player’s home for the Christmas break. This is completely within NCAA rules. Student-athletes typically live on campus with a meal plan at the dining hall during their freshman years. In this case, their scholarship covers all of the cost for their dorm room and meal plan.
Most players will live off campus after their freshman year as long as the coach allows it, which is usually determined by how the student-athlete is doing in school. Those players living off campus get a room and board check equal to the amount their university lists in the costs to attend. For say student- athletes at the University of Arkansas, it is $4,021 for each fall and spring semester based off of this figure. That is a total of $8,024 for both semesters. Almost all scholarship student-athletes stay in town for summer school to take care of their academics and workout.
Arkansas has 16-week fall and spring semesters. The two summer sessions are a total of 12 weeks. Using that logic, Arkansas football players get 75% (12 weeks instead of 16) of $4,021, which is $3,016. NCAA Bylaw 16. 11. 1. 5 allows for a student-athlete or an entire team in a sport to have an occasional meal paid for by a representative of athletics interest, also known as a booster, on infrequent and special occasions. The booster can even provide local transportation as long as the meal is at the booster’s house and not a restaurant. The meal can be catered.
The meal can be as lavish as the booster wants to provide. Most schools have a form for boosters to fill out before hosting a student-athlete or team. This is another way to feed student-athletes. The typical non-freshman Arkansas football player received the cash listed below in 2010-11: $5,500- Pell Grant $500- Clothing Fund $8,024- Fall and Spring Room and Board $3,016- Summer Room and Board $17,040- Grand Total Remember, this excludes any money from the Student-Athlete Opportunity Fund, the Special Assistance Fund, and any occasional meals provided by boosters.
Monthly, football players are looking at that $1,420 cash in their pocket without having to buy books or pay tuition and fees. Not many get to walk around with $1,420 of cash every month in college? If the student-athlete had to work a job paying a $10 an hour, they would need to work 50 weeks at 36 hours to make $1,420 before taxes to make what they get from their football scholarship and other available money sources. Scholarships are renewable each year for up to five years while student-athletes can only compete four seasons.
Coaches can choose to not award a scholarship to a returning student-athlete at the end of each year for any reason. For our sake, we will assume our football players will be at school for five years because many redshirt or lose a year to a medical redshirt. In-state Arkansas students get $50,000 in value over five years from their scholarship covering tuition, books, and fees to go along with the roughly $17,000 a year we calculated above. In total, a football scholarship is worth $135,000 to football player at Arkansas from the state of Arkansas.
Football players from out of state get roughly $108,000 in value over five years from their scholarship covering tuition, books, and fees in addition to the $17,000 a year listed above for a five year value of roughly $193,000. For years people have called for reform of college athletics, real reform not the kibble and bits routine that Emmert has done. So let’s get into ways that the dollar can be spread a little more throughout the system. According to Taylor Branch, a historian who published a lengthy excoriation in “The Atlantic”, “The best way is to openly acknowledge the commercialization of college sports and pay the work force”.
He compared the current system in place to “the plantation,”. Branch states that for all the outrage, the real scandal is not that students are getting illegally paid or recruited, it’s that two of the noble principles on which the NCAA justifies its existence—“amateurism” and the “student-athlete”—are cynical hoaxes, legalistic confections propagated by the universities so they can exploit the skills and fame of young athletes. Like most such would-be reformers, however, he didn’t offer a way to go about it. Don Curtis, a UNC trustee, told Branch that impoverished football players cannot afford movie tickets or bus fare home.
Curtis is a rarity among those in higher education today, in that he dares to violate the signal taboo: “I think we should pay these guys something. ” The tragedy at the heart of college sports is not that some college athletes are getting paid, but that more of them are not. There are reasons as to why athletes should not be paid with the biggest being Title IX. Title IX is a federally mandated law that states if conferences and schools decide to increase the value of student-athletes scholarships to cover living expense they will have to do it for women’s programs as well.
Schools are not trying to pay out anymore than they have to so they stick with the Title IX mandate that is in place. Next would be trying to figure out how do the smaller schools that do not bring in as much money pay their players. They do not have great television deals like the larger programs do. If a large program is paying a kid $5000 to play there and the small school can only offer $1000 then the most obvious choice would be the larger program.
What if you do decide to pay players from the profit earning sports which are football and basketball, do you open it up to all college varsity sports because others will be screaming mad even though their sports does not produce the money the big two makes. Last, even though there may be some amount for a kid to be paid, that athlete may still have their hands out to take money from another outside source. Since we looked at reason as to why student-athletes should not be paid there has to be a flip side which is the reason why student-athletes should be paid.
Players should be entitled to some compensation because of the revenue they bring in and the fact that they play knowing they run the risk of injury. You “see everybody getting richer and richer,” Desmond Howard, who won the 1991 Heisman Trophy while playing for the Michigan Wolverines, told USA Today recently. Another reason is the fact that not all student-athletes come from a silver spoon. Some come from poor backgrounds and cannot rely on their families for money, and because of the demand of the sport, they have no time for jobs.
Another reason is the fact that the money that football and men’s basketball programs make should go back to those athletes rather than pay for the other sports at school. Going this route would have athletic directors at schools across the country going crazy since these two sports are what fund the other sports but it is time to do the right thing. Paying these athletes might help stem the tide of those going pro early and lastly paying these athletes may curb abuses such as players taking money from boosters or agents.
A change I would be a system that may enhance the sources that are already in place. The first procedure to go into practice will be to expand on that booster fund. Universities accept and acknowledge first hand “Booster Clubs” so why not allow the booster himself, like an Ed Martin, to be able to make donations to the newly formed player’s fund. He watched some of those kids grow up in Michigan and does not want to see them or the University get into trouble. Keep a cap on the amount of money that can be placed into the booster fund.
Second, keep a cap on the amount of people who can donate to the player’s booster fund. Third, all money will be divided amongst the team evenly that way the star player will receive the same amount as the water-boy. This fund will allow that to happen. For whichever sports the money is donated into it can be divided to the players in increments during the four semesters during the year. A sort of student refund but coming from the booster club works. Under this system if a student-athlete takes more money under the table and is caught he is eligible for immediate expulsion.
The advantage of using this system is that the University can monitor how much has been given to the students and which booster has made the donations. If the NCAA came calling to look at the books then all the information will be there as to who, when and how much. This fund can work for student-athletes who are a part of the volleyball team or the lacrosse team. It doesn’t matter which sport as long as it comes to the school from the appropriate booster. A disadvantage would be that if enough donations have been collected and someone has a bigger donation you may have to turn them away.
Coming up with a sum to please everyone would be the biggest fight the university has to come up with. The profit earning players will ask for more than the non-profit sports which could lead to animosity between students which could fall into the category of being a disadvantage. A different proposal is setting up a program that allows the athlete himself, “who has shed blood, sweat and tears” to receive something for the merchandise he wears and plays in. The system in place doesn’t work and punishes the student for selling items as what happened in the Ohio State scandal.
If the school can auction off the jersey or sell it in the student bookstore then why not allow the student to do the same? The NCAA can look into ways of having the student himself be allowed to sell his autographed materials, if he likes, but if it has to be sold between a certain amounts of money that falls within a cap. The athlete has earned that right by shedding those blood, sweat and tears. If the student-athletes from say the lacrosse team wants to sell their jersey and can find a buyer they can fall under the same system that is in effect for the football and basketball players.
The school itself can line up buyers for the materials and charge a finder’s fee where a portion of the profits goes to the school (15%) and to the player(s) (85%). There can be auctions at the start of the season for these items. This is an easy solution to a really precarious problem. This system can work for all the varsity sports that a school plays. The school merchandise sales may even go up. Right now the system is that these kids shed blood, sweat and tears for a school but when we try to get some type of money off our merchandise they wear, they get in trouble yet the NCAA will allow the school to make money off the material.
Now with a system in place some students will try to sell each game jersey that they wear and that will create a new violation that the NCAA can rule against. Let the system work for an athlete being able to sell two of their jerseys for each year played so the most any athlete can sell are 8 items. Some athletes will try to get more than one buyer to get more merchandise sold off the books so an inventory system will have to be set up to ensure that the set amount to be sold will be sold and not more.
Opponents will argue that this system is a vague way to get money to the athletes and it is. It will be set up by the school to ensure that their student-athlete does not have the option of getting involved with booster which could lead to violations. A disadvantage to this proposal would be that some student athletes would be upset that their materials do not sell and do not sell as well as the profit earning players leaving them without any extra income from merchandise sells.
Another disadvantage is that the student-athlete may be all consumed with the selling of their items and let the can spill of how much it sold for which could lead to division in the lock room from petty jealousies. The money is great in college athletics with numerous teams bouncing around from conference to conference in search of a greater pay day but to start paying student-athletes would not work being that they are well taken care of the minute they step on to the campus for all the years they choose to stay on that campus.
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Buzzle Harris, Flint (2011, 5/22) Football players receive $17,000 annually in cash, all within NCAA rules. HolyTurf. Rishe, Patrick (2011, 8/21), Value of College Football Scholarship Exceeds $2 Million for College Football’s Top 25, Forbes Magazine. Author unknown (2011, 6/21) How do Athletic Scholarships work? Behind the Blue Disk, National Collegiate Athletic Association website, http://www. ncaa. org/wps/wcm/connect/public/NCAA/Resources/Behind+the+Blue+Disk/How+Do+Athletic+Scholarships+Work Pennington, Bill (2008, 3/10) Expectations lose to reality of sports scholarships. New York Times.