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Payment For College Student-athletes: For Or Against?

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College athletes, they are arguably some of the hardest working students in the school systems. They attend their classes and are required to maintain their grades, while also behaving as some of the best students. Along with living the life of an average student, they also have an extremely demanding schedule with the sport they play to go along with it. Lately, the most easily sparked debate is whether student-athletes should be paid for playing sports. Those who believe that they should not be paid have some good arguments to make. Mainly the players can go to school for free, and it would remove the amateurism of college sports. Those against it do not want to see these students focused more on the money than on their education or the sport itself. People who believe the student-athletes should get paid also make some well researched points, such as the athletes risking their bodies to permanent damage, and how much money is generated off the back of these students' hard work.

When people talk about paying college athletes, they are talking about the handful of football and basketball players that become household names bringing in the most money for their schools. Primarily they are talking about those elite athletes from some of the biggest Division 1 schools such as Duke, Alabama, UNC Chapel Hill, Clemson, etc. These athletes are almost always getting their full tuition paid for or left with little to no expenses. Those who are opposed to paying student-athletes believe that scholarships are the best option there is, rather than directly paying these athletes. With scholarships there is no doubt on what the money is used be for, but if they were to be paid with cash or a salary the money could be spent on that student’s wants rather than their needs. Potentially, this could lead to the athletes placing themselves into debt, one that could have been easily avoided by a scholarship. “Even if the athlete is not actually receiving money towards tuition, they often get expert, NFL coaching and freebies such as housing, meals, clothing, medical care, and professional development.” says Anderson in his article ‘Top 10 Reasons College Athletes Should Not Be Paid’.

When the topic of paying college athletes comes up there are two things that immediately come to mind. The first being some people believe that they should all be paid on an open market system, allowing the school to pay the player based on the revenue they generate based on their talents. Though this creates the problem of how the value of the player will be determined and what would happen if they were hired at a lesser rate of pay and then tremendously improve over the course of their season? Also, what if the school pays the athlete a high wage and the player becomes injured? Secondly, not every college can afford the players that they want to recruit.

If we could pay student-athletes, it would cause cuts everywhere. It would cost the school millions in salaries, and where would the money come from? The first thing that the schools would cut are the other sports they have. If the schools were to start paying their bigger athletes, then the other teams would automatically lose out, due to lack of money. Another thing that is possible to happen is other university programs could be cut. An example of this would be if the university has a small theater program and decided to pay their athletes, the money would essentially partly come from that theater program, and eventually it would be cut.

One of the biggest reasons halting the pay of student-athletes is the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). They are a non-profit organization whose main goal is to offer educational services to the student-athletes they support and provide money to the schools who provide this education.

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Most believe that if we pay these college athletes it will put a stop to the corruption. The perk these athletes receive goes beyond free housing and meals. Before the student is even allowed to pick the college of their choice to play at, there are some cases in which the alumni of a certain school will give the student handouts in hopes of them choosing their university. Though this is forbidden it only gets worse when they are at the university. Once at the university some of the top players will start to receive handouts from families, businesses, and agencies that are deeply committed to the school and it’s athletic programs.

Lastly, and probably most importantly, is that paying these athletes would ruin the nature that surrounds college sports. Athletes play sports for two main reasons: for their love of the game and to hopefully one day make it into a career for themselves. If they were to start being paid, then the colleges and university athletic departments would turn into these large money-hungry enterprises that would tarnish the idea behind college athletic system. The many problems that occur in professional sports would begin to happen in college sports. Students would demand more money; unions would conform focusing on the rights of these athletes.

On the opposite side of the debate for those who believe student-athletes should be paid. The NCAA has modernized themselves into an organization to take full advantage of these athletes. Today, sports and athletics in the NCAA bring in about $11 billion for themselves. Their coaches and administrators make unbelievable amounts of money. Despite the cash that is flowing from a “non-profit organization”, the players do not see any of this money directly. These organizations are making billions off the back-breaking work of these athletes. According the NCAA rules they are not allowed to capitalize on their status as elite athletes. The organization argues these athletes are already provided with many benefits that ass up to what they would receive if they were to be paid. While these benefits were a great incentive for students to work towards being a college student-athlete, the billions that are generated every year seem to go more into salaries and billion-dollar stadiums that are built with the sole purpose to bring in a higher revenue.

On average a college spends about 43.3 hours a week dedicated solely to their sport. The average full-time job gives their salaries based on a schedule of 40-hour work weeks. After adding the hours of training, practices, meeting, classes, and hours of studying, these students on average are working 90 hours a week. Many of these students struggle to even make ends meets, forced to find small part-time jobs to fit into their already 90-hour week schedules just to have enough to feed themselves. Anderson states in his article ‘10 Reasons Student Athletes Should Be Paid’, “Of course, there is not a real precedent to begin paying a student the same salary as Kobe Bryant; but making sure that they can eat properly should not be an issue for organizations with such huge amounts of revenue.” It would also only make college sports much more competitive than they already are. It would force students to work harder, do better, and be better than the person standing next to them. Lastly, one of the biggest reasons as to why they should pay is the amount of money their coaches are making. These coaches are making a salary of easily six figures. The highest paid college coach as of right now is Clemson’s football coach Dabo Swinney, being awarded a 10-year contract worth $93 million.

College athletics teaches students to grow into someone more mature, disciplined, and determined in life. Fans follow these games throughout the season, sometimes more than professional sports. They love to see the intensity and aggressiveness these athletes play with, in hopes to make it to a bigger stage. Not only to make it bit, but also for their own personal love they have for the game.

The debate that on whether these athletes should be paid will always rage on. Though there are many persuasive reasons why they should be paid, there are many more logical reasons as to why they should not be. It would place the universities in a financial hole, causing other programs to be cut from the schools, and ultimately a disparity in the few universities that have enough money to pay, opposed to those who do not. These students are already receiving many benefits that entail free education, housing, meals, traveling, medical care, social economic networking, and many other opportunities that give them an advantage over their peers. Ultimately on the unlikely chance the NCAA, a non-profit organization, decides to pay student-athletes, I suggest these students to play for the love of the game that has already driven them this far.

Works Cited

  1. Anderson, Dave. “Top 10 Reasons College Athletes Should Not Be Paid.” List Land, 6 July 2019,
  2. Anderson, Dave. “Top 10 Reasons College Athletes Should Be Paid.” List Land, 6 July 2019,
  3. Bokat-Lindell, S. (2019). Opinion | Should College Athletes Be Allowed to Get Paid?. [online] Available at: [Accessed 10 Nov. 2019].
  4. Patterson, T. (2019). Should College Athletes Be Paid? - SmartAsset. [online] SmartAsset. Available at: [Accessed 10 Nov. 2019].
  5. Washington, J. (2019). Big-time college athletes should be paid with big-time educations. [online] The Undefeated. Available at: [Accessed 10 Nov. 2019].
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Payment For College Student-athletes: For Or Against? (2022, February 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved November 29, 2023, from
“Payment For College Student-athletes: For Or Against?” Edubirdie, 17 Feb. 2022,
Payment For College Student-athletes: For Or Against? [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 29 Nov. 2023].
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