With its much success, the NCAA has created a demand for excellence in sport. Today, colleges are expected to fork out millions of dollars to support athletic functions if they even want to be consider relevant.
The job of this "non-profit" organization is to regulate and organize collegiate athletic conferences and finals. They pay for refs, coaching staffs, jerseys, and much more. But, they also make billions in revenue, hundreds of millions of which goes back to the NCAA board.
Universities, on the other hand, profit off of college sports too, but they don't make enough to fund athletes. They have to worry about paying for multi-million-dollar stadiums and training facilities.
if the NCAA (opposed to colleges) paid athletes, that's another story. if they paid all collegiate athletes, the 480 + thousand of them, Athletes would get next to nothing. But, THEY COULD EASILY PAY THE REVENUE-GENERATING ATHLETES (BASKETBALL AND FOOTBALL).
So, should we lobby to have the NCAA start paying all athletes of revenue-generating sports (basketball and football)? Or should we lobby to only have them pay star athletes that create most of the wealth?
How much do we pay them? And if we do, how will we ensure they won't become more important than the university they represent?
Will non-paid athletes find these decisions fair? Would it be totally ethical?
let's take a step back
What major implications are attached to paying college athletes?
Paying college athletes implies that
playing is work.
If playing is work,
then school is a business.
And if school is business and playing is work, then it would seem
school is the business of sport.
Therefore, if school is the business of sport,
where is the business of education?
We're not so sure that paying any college athletes is the answer to these problems.
Let's review some of main problems faced with this proposal to pay athletes.
Are college athletes really suffering financially? Are they being unfairly treated? Are they really cheated out of wealth?
Since when are athletic business ventures more important than academics?
Are non-athlete students benefiting from multi-million dollar athletic programs?
Who is paying for these large-scale athletic programs, anyway?
"In the past five years, public universities pumped more than $10.3 billion in mandatory student fees and other subsidies into their sports programs (2015)."
"In 2014, Virginia athletics made $70.5 million, $17 million less than it spent. In a decade, Virginia has increased its student fee from $388 to $657."
One theory that explains this large-scale burden on students is hegemony, the idea that one group's ideology is privileged over another due to powerful social norms. In this case, athletic programs are privileging athletes over non-athletes, largely due to social pressures from the NCAA and college communities in general, to make a successful athletic program that is also a thriving multi-million-dollar business.
The financial burden for college athletics is largely on the shoulders of everyday, income-stricken students who often have no interest in athletics.
"Nearly 130 athletic departments rely on subsidies for over half their revenue."
"...Analysis found that subsidization rates tend to be highest at colleges where ticket sales and other revenue is the lowest — meaning that students who have the least interest in their college’s sports teams are often required to pay the most to support them."
Every aspect of paying college athletes is like going down a rabbit hole that just gets messier and messier and more confusing, with pros and cons galore. But, there is one area in which the whole can and should be covered and filled in with dirt, and that's the subject of student fees and the fact that students don't even have an option to pay or not to pay student fees.
Students should, at the very least, be aware that they’re getting charged an athletic fee instead of having it hidden in with other tuitional fees.
"Nebraska recently spent $63 million to expand its stadium; Wisconsin has been spending $86 million on a three-phase project to improve football facilities; Iowa is spending $57 million to improve football facilities. USC spent $70 million last year on football facilities."
"...college football’s biggest moneymakers: Texas ranks No. 1 with revenues of $96 million and a profit of $71 million...
Notre Dame ($72M/$47M)
Penn State ($73M/$53M)
The tenth-ranked program, Oklahoma, checked in revenues of $59m and a profit of $36m.
These aren’t schools; they're corporations with schools attached."
Why is such spending and building so commonplace?
This endless spiral of capitalism, building more for the sake of getting more (almost like a theme park that feels the need to create a new ride each year) is the result of an ideology rooted deeply in the minds of many athletic enthusiasts, that's because college sports are so profitable, they're far more important than academics.
With this worldview, it's always about the money.
Before we even talk about paying college athletes, we should talk about paying back college students everywhere who have foot the bill for non-academic functions over the last sixty or so years.
We pay them back by removing tuitional athletic fees.
Maybe for the first time, this will create a world without so much student debt (America's second greatest financial burden next to mortgage loans).
"Paige Taul is a 19-year-old Virginia student who earns $8.25/hour as a cashier at the campus bookstore... She expects to graduate with at least $30,000 of debt. Taul doesn’t go to football games. She’s usually working."
This Virginia student would need to work roughly 80 hours a semester just to pay off her debt to athletics.
"Universities have lost their way in pursuit of [athletic] glory and riches, most of them at the expense of the average student. Before they talk about paying players, college programs should live within their means and get off welfare. Either that or universities should return to their real purpose:
The business of education."
Coach Mark Robison, BYU Track Coach
Caleb Andrews, BYU Student, Athlete
Ian Gatchell, Utah Utes Student, Athlete