When people hear the term “NCAA,” which means National Collegiate Athletic Association, they often think of basketball or football. While there are a variety of sports under the NCAA, these seem to be the most popular. The NCAA offers sports at three levels, Division I, II and III. In total, there are 492,000 student-athletes. How many of these athletes go pro? Only 2%. The NCAA was founded in 1910 with a membership of only 62 colleges and universities. During the mid-1900s, athletes were recruited to play, mainly to football teams and were paid. However, many of the athletes did not attend the school. Some were workers for the town in which the college was located. In other cases, the athletes were given high paying jobs, but completed little to no work. In 1948, the NCAA created a rule that based financial aid for athletes based on tuition and fees as well as need. Several years later, athletic scholarships were allowed to cover tuition and fees. Today, the NCAA is more commercialized and awards scholarships frequently to student-athletes.
When it comes to debating whether or not these athletes should be paid, there are a lot of factors that must be taken into consideration. The amount of money the athletes would receive would total to millions of dollars, but is it worth it? Sixty-nine percent of the public opposes paying student-athletes. College athletes in all divisions of play should not be paid due to the fact that many receive full rides to play sports at a higher level. The money could be used other places, such as educational purposes and because it would cause costs to increase significantly.
Student-athletes attend college to get an education, hence the placement of student before athlete. Their number one goal is to get a degree, and they choose to play sports in college as an extra-curricular activity he/she seeks to take part in. If college athletes were to be paid, it would threaten the college’s primary focus-education. Money could be taken away from academics and put into sports, making a college degree worth less if not, worthless. Because 98% of student-athletes do not make it to the professional level, an education is very important. If players receive payments, more focus would be placed on sports than academics.
Many of the student-athletes that turn pro go to some of the top programs in the country. That means they work with some of the top coaches in the country because those institutions pay for the coaches to develop the coaches. Earlier it was brought up how basketball and football were the two main sports. Two of the top programs in those sports are Duke University and the University of Alabama. Those programs win National Championships all the time. Duke has historically dominated in basketball. Most of their success is because of their coach, Mike Krzyewski. He gets paid $8.98 million per year to coach Duke. Duke develops many players that go onto the NBA. Duke’s football team however is not as successful and doesn’t develop as much NFL talent. Alabama is the exact opposite. Their basketball program doesn’t have much success, while their football team develops lots of NFL talent. That is because they pay their coach Nick Saban $9.3 million per year. Why is this important? It is clear that the colleges are paying the coaches tons of money to develop the players to go to the next level. Obviously, not every player goes on to play professionally, but they have a better chance when they go to one of the best programs. This is paying the players without paying them. Ultimately, the schools pay the coaches to develop the players to try to get them to play professionally.
In addition, the question arises of which student-athletes would get paid. All of them, no matter the division of play? Would “star” athletes get paid more? The NCAA is a not-for-profit organization, but if colleges were to pay its student-athletes, it would be a for profit organization, leading to fraud. Colleges would be run like a business, instead of doing its main job-providing an education. Students are not professionals, not employees of the college. Receiving athletic scholarships is technically a form of payment for athletes. Although he/she is not getting paid directly, tuition and fees are covered. These students are basically receiving a free degree while other students struggle to pay college costs.
The average cost to attend a public college is about $ 25,290. The average cost to attend a private college is about $50,900. Equate that to four years and that is over $100,000 for a public college and over $200,000 for a private college. That is a lot of money that you would have to pay back. Many athletes receive a full scholarship and don’t have to pay any of that back. Although that isn’t cash coming to them weekly, the money they receive in scholarships is worth a lot. Many students are in debt for many years after they graduate because of student loans. Many of the athletes don’t have that problem because they’ve been fortunate enough to have their school payed for so they would pay sports for that school. This is mainly in Division I because that is where the majority of the student-athletes turn pro.
Division I athletes that are looking to go pro have not made it yet, therefore should not be paid. Similarly, student-athletes of other levels of play are not looking to go pro, so they should not receive compensation either. The majority of them are playing their sport to continue playing a sport they love. They make the choice to play that sport, no one is forcing them to play. Tuition would increase if athletes got paid at the collegiate level.
Not only would tuition increase, other costs would as well. Attendance costs would rise to raise revenue and other college programs may get cut. Moreover, colleges use money to fund social events on campus or different departments for students. For example, many colleges hold concerts or intramural sports for students. But if funds for these activities were cut, the school is cutting out much of the student body. Student-athletes receive enough from schools, such as free apparel, practice gear, access to personal weight rooms, free meals and trips, as well as sports medicine care. The money raised by the school should be put toward activities that would benefit the entire student body.
If student-athletes were to be paid a salary, they would have to pay taxes. Depending on the level of income, the taxes could significantly cut what he/she would receive, therefore, making it more difficult to pay tuition and fees. Being compensated for play will lead to student-athletes believing they only want to play for the money. They will begin acting as employees, start “showboating” and ignore coaches because they will think they are in professional leagues. They will start taking advantage of the school only to benefit themselves when they are not even at the professional level.
Over the years there have been many issues with people getting paid while they are still in college. Players are not allowed to have agents while they attend college because that is not allowed by the NCAA. There was a major case of this a few years ago when former NBA Agent Andy Miller. Miller ran the Agency ASM Sports. ASM was accused of paying some players and their families while they were still at school. One of the biggest cases was for Dennis Smith Jr who currently plays for the New York Knicks. When he went to North Carolina State, he was apparently given about $73,500 in loans. This was given to an account named “Loan to Players”. This is highly illegal and the player and agent can get in a lot of trouble for this.
Another example would be the case with Zion Williamson this past fall. Williamson attended Duke University this past year and has declared for the NBA Draft. Williamson was a top recruit and most schools wanted him. There is a wiretapped call between Kansas University Assistant Coach Kurtis Townsend and Adidas Consultant Merl Code. In the conversation, they talk about how Zion’s dad asked Kansas for money. This brings up the question of how many schools are willing to pay these athletes under the table so that they attend their school. It also brings up another question on if you pay all student-athletes, will this still happen so the stars get rewarded?
In a perfect world, the school should be able to pay the salaries, right? This is impossible, because the school has to fund other events and pay its own employees. Because of this, schools would have to turn to taxpayers, much to their disgust. Over time, this could lead to some students choosing not to enroll in academic institutions.