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Should college student-athletes be paid?

Much talk has arose lately about whether or not college athletes should be paid. Some argue that they are given a free education and that is how they are being rewarded, others argue that that is not enough considering the time the athletes are putting in and the money they are generating for their schools. What do you think?

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    Feb 3 2014: As an education at many schools costs upwards of $50,000 per year, offering that for free does seem like a nice paycheck for a young person of eighteen or twenty. Many student athletes are, as Theodore cites below, admitted to universities with educational resources to which they might never have had access without their athletic credentials. Many of those schools have in place extensive academic support specifically for those students.In the mid-seventies I had a part-time job at a major university working with large numbers of student athletes to help them learn calculus well enough to pass.
    • Feb 3 2014: But do you really think these athletes are using this education and actually learning? Or are they just getting by with passing and not learning anything that could be used in the future?
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        Feb 4 2014: The student athletes I know see their athletic proficiency as a means of getting an education. I expect that athletes are aware of how quickly an injury could interfere with a career in sports and how important it is to prepare for a life without sports or after sports.
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    Feb 3 2014: "In 2012, the University of Louisville earned a profit of $26.9 million from its men's basketball program, according to figures that schools have to file with the Department of Education and were analyzed by CNNMoney. That's about 60% more than the $16.9 million profit at the University of North Carolina, whose men's hoops team had the second-largest profit."

    This is from a recent news story from CNN. But there is more to the story, which was titled, " Some college athletes play like adults, read like 5th-graders."

    "Linda Bensel-Meyers, who worked for Tennessee until 2003, said a university-hired psychologist would diagnose learning disabilities in athletes and put them in a program without the graduation requirements set for other students.
    "Many of the records I looked at revealed that these athletes came to us essentially illiterate and still left the school functionally illiterate," Bensel-Meyers told CNN.
    When contacted by CNN, Tennessee did not answer questions."

    So, compare the facts in the story with the comments here that will say, "What really counts though is the free education."
    And consider the concussion rates and the injuries to players in the nations top football programs.
    I think players do need to be compensated with more than a so call education.
    • Feb 3 2014: I agree 100% with you, Theodore. These college athletes aren't given the opportunity to do anything with their education because the majority of their time spent on campus is spent training/playing/practicing their sport.
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        Feb 3 2014: Some points of view worth considering:

        "So now — when college basketball is in full swing and college football is at its climax, with bowls jammed with high-paying customers, with television revenue pouring in, not to mention all the money that hotels and airlines and restaurants and souvenir salesmen and announcers and sportswriters and coaches and athletic directors are raking in — is a good time to lament anew that, my gracious, isn't it interesting that the only people not making money are the people actually playing the games."

        DADE: As someone who played college football - this is Corey - played college football, I can tell you that - and I was at a competitive school at Grambling, but not big-time football like Northwestern. But, you know, I can tell you, you know, for those athletes, college sports, especially football, it's a job. It interferes with the academics, interferes with your ability to get part-time - prevents you from getting a part-time job. It generally kind of pimps them for their physical labor. The NCAA is the ultimate pimp, the ultimate exploiter. And, you know, this kind of activism is needed to force the NCAA to blow up this farce of amateur athletics and really devise a new structure that adequately compensates athletes for their sacrifices. Now all that said, there's no way that the NCAA is going to actually reclassify their students as employees. That's just not going to happen.
  • Feb 3 2014: I went to University of Wisconsin, Madison for undergraduate. One of my friends was the starting defensive end. The number of hours he put in was unbelievable. I believe given the time, effort, he put in. Those athletes at that level should be paid.
    • Feb 3 2014: I could not agree more! These players are expected to perform like pro athletes so we should be paying them like they are a pro.
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    Jan 31 2014: Great question! Way back in the 80's I was a college athlete for a short time. I thought the free sneakers and clothes were a big thing! What really counts though is the free education. If you can get a free degree in these times of rising college costs what more can you ask for?

    A very small percentage of athletes make money for their schools. The study halls, tutors, etc. that the student athletes get is more than payment enough.
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    • Jan 30 2014: These players are trapped in a billion dollar business and they get zero for it. In my opinion, it's not morally just.
  • Feb 16 2014: I think full scholarship and the opportunity for a top notch education is incentive enough. If they are good enough at the sport they excel in then they will earn good money within a few short years.
  • Feb 16 2014: If they are going to college simply to play sports, they shouldn't be there in the first place. College is supposed to be a place of higher education. Im not saying sports players are dumb, but from the football players I've seen in my classes, I think I can safely assume that academics aren't their primary focus. Paying them would be like "sorry to all you other college students for actually going to college for an education, but these idiots can play a sport well, which is no use in the real world, but we're paying them for it anyways".
  • Feb 14 2014: No.
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    Feb 13 2014: Kevin, What makes you think that they are not "paid". Books, Tuition, fees, and all maintenance are standard and there is always the job at one of alums businesses, farms, etc .... for 20 to 30 K a year. In one investigation the student athlete was asked where he worked ... he told them but did not know how to get to the work site he had been employed at for three years. One was paid 20K a year to water the playing field ... it was artificial turf cared for by the ground crew. A All American who later played for the globe trotters turned in a typed paper for a no notice pop quiz and left in less than a minute. Basketball was very, very good to him. He typed his name with only two errors.

    The real deal is that they are cash cows for the school and in turn the school gives them the opportunity to window their skills for the pro scouts. Only 40% of the pro football players graduate ... but every Sunday they call out their school with pride. The worst by far is Basketball where only 10% graduate. The announcers say "played at" and seldom say "graduated from".

    It is semi pro at the least and minor league level pro at best .... education is the least of "most" of these peoples aims.

    It is dishonest on all sides and we would be better dropping all of the lies and presenting the truth. Go to a school in state ... house in the player dorm ... showcase your skills ... move on. The school still profits ... the player auditions ... and all the noses stop growing from the lying.

    If you are 7" 6" and 300 pounds the coach does not care if you can spell or not.

    Just a thought.
  • Feb 7 2014: I do think the amount of money you pay these athletes must be limited. Also, I believe just some spare money for the athletes would be just fine, the big money should be saved for the few players that go pro. I am very interested in this topic not only because I love college sports, but also because I am a high school athlete with dreams to play collegiately.
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    Feb 4 2014: surfing the net, I see that most of the specific sports at any given college lose money, generally it's basketball and football that make money but more obscure sports don't. So basketball and football are helping to subsidize less popular sports like rowing or soccer? If you started paying student-athletes, you possibly couldn't have a big variety of sports because you wouldn't have extra money for them. It works for me to think that basketball and football help with other sports, what do you think, Kevin? So that would be an argument for not paying the athletes?
    • Feb 4 2014: Maybe paying only the "starters" on each of the teams ? Or only paying those who play money making sports? The NCAA is a billion dollar business. I believe they have the money and resources to make it work
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        Feb 5 2014: well, what I was seeing when I surfed the net is that the net says only the major college sports make money, football and basketball. The other, less prominent sports lose money, stuff like rowing and wrestling. But football and basketball help pay for stuff like rowing and wrestling. If you start paying the people who play football and basketball, you won't have any money left over for sports programs like rowing and wrestling? But really I don't know, Kevin, if any of this is true, I believe to really know you would have to spend a lot of time investigating.

        But I'm curious how much you think athletes could make, it might just be some walking-around money, not really big money?

        What is your stake in this, why do you care? Are you an athlete? Do you have family or friends who are athletes? Maybe you just empathize with college athletes?
  • Feb 1 2014: Kevin, i believe that nobody needs to paid nothing for school, after all, we paid a lot of taxes for our goverment, i think that they should give us the best school of the world free!!!
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    Jan 29 2014: good question that I had never thought about before. Offhand it seems like yes, they should. But what would be the counterarguments, why would someone say no? I suppose one problem is that you might want a student-athlete to choose their school based on its academics rather than how much they will be paid. On the other hand, how much does that matter, any accredited school they go to they have the chance to get a decent education, so why shouldn't they choose a school based on how much they'll get paid?

    Do you think high school athletes should get paid?

    Another counterargument might be that younger athletes aren't as prone to injury, the professional athletes have to contend with injuries and so deserve more to be paid? But on the other hand, I would think high school and college athletes help their schools by bringing in revenue in the case of ticket sales, so they deserve pay? It seems like you would want to grade it by how much money their sport makes and how important they are to the team? Like someone who competes on the rowing team maybe shouldn't make as much as a football player?
    • Jan 30 2014: I believe what the NCAA would have to do is step in and equalize the pay at every university for every sport so that money would not become a factor in the decision making process. And no, I do not believe high school athletes should get paid because unlike college players, high school players are not dedicating near the amount of time college athletes must. These college athletes are working as hard and dedicating as much time to their sport as the pros so why not pay them like the pros?
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        Jan 30 2014: well, technically, what would it matter if money did become a factor? I mean, people make decisions in other realms of life based on the money they would earn, so why not here? Let an athlete weigh the factors, the quality of education, the money, perhaps the location of the school, and on and on, and make the decision based on how they evaluate the various advantages and disadvantages?
        • Jan 31 2014: So you are saying if the NCAA was to allow the paying of athletes that schools/sports do not all have to pay the same amount? Never thought of it like that, great point though.
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        Jan 31 2014: well, my thought would be that some athletes are going to sell more tickets, which helps the school financially more, so they should be paid more? What would be the counterargument? One thing I would like to know, Kevin, is whether college athletes turn over faster than pro athletes, in other words on a pro team maybe players stay with a particular team longer, let's say an athlete might stay 10 years with a team, whereas in college the most they will stay is four years? If the college sports department administration has to be dealing with faster turnover, where they have to be taking athletes on and off the payroll more often than on a pro team, that increases their overhead and reduces how much they can pay.

        But you know, it does feel weird to be thinking about paying college athletes. Is it just because we're not used to it, or is there something really weird about it?
        • Feb 1 2014: It does feel a little bit odd to me also. But my thought is that when you have more people attending a college basketball game than a pro basketball game it just does not seem fair to me that the college athletes are not the ones getting paid. I believe every "different" idea seems a little strange at first. But, as people become more accustomed to the new idea they warm up to it and it does not look so strange after all.
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        Feb 2 2014: well, one possible objection might be that college sports is not as star-oriented as pro? In other words, people who attend a college game might partially do it because they love the school and would go no matter who was playing; whereas people who attend a pro game might go specifically for the star athletes on the field? Do you think this objection holds water, Kevin?
        • Feb 3 2014: I believe that is very true, but I also believe that people who attend a pro game could go because they love that team also. My problem though with not paying college athletes is that in big time sports like football and basketball, high school athletes have no choice but to go to college because the only way to get to the pros is through the collegiate level. The NCAA is preying off these athletes knowing that they must come through college to get to the pros. This is where I find this subject most immoral.
  • Jan 29 2014: And here I thought higher education was about, you know, learning or perhaps research, expanding human knowledge and all that.

    But if you want to make it about sports, that would be the way to do it.
    Most of the population already has skewed priorities, why not the academia as well?
    • Jan 30 2014: But Nadav, sports have become a part of academic learning at all levels, all schools middle school and above have sports teams that are connected with the school, not as a priority, but as an extracurricular activity. Because if it were not for these athletic programs at some of the private colleges, there would be limited ways to fund the school's everyday activities.
      • Jan 30 2014: If a college's athletic program generates a profit, that's an entirely different matter.
        Correct me if I'm wrong, but I was under the impression that its more of a money sink that shifts priorities away from actual learning.
        • Jan 30 2014: College sports are over a billion dollar business. Certainly generating profits for their respective universities
  • Jan 29 2014: They are but no one talks about it.
    • Jan 30 2014: That's certainly a broad generalization.
      • Jan 30 2014: Sorry Kevin but I live in a more civilized world with freedom and compassion. The corporate pimps and ho's world although entertaining is a little to rash for my liking. Everybody knows the ho's don't get paid, they just get used, they are a commodity owned by the pimps.
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    • Jan 30 2014: These athletes are providing a service, and like any service that is provided, they should be paid for their work. It's as simple as that in my opinion