Why college athletes deserve to be paid


USC Football team enters the stadium.

Clayton Hedges, Memorial Contributing Writer

Tua Tagovailoa, Trey Young, Baker Mayfield: almost everyone can recognize these student-athletes’ names whether they follow college sports or not. College athletics, specifically football and men’s basketball, are a billion dollar business with everyone profiting except for one group, athletes.

In Division I football, there are 27 universities that have an annual revenue of over $100 million; among these 27 colleges, two earn roughly $200 million. In addition to these earnings, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) brings in at least $1 billion of reported revenue every year,

College football and basketball make so much money that the CBS network was willing to pay the NCAA over $1 billion to merely co-host the end of the year basketball tournament known as March Madness with TBS, TNT  and TruTV until 2023. If funds that extreme are being used to simply co-host the most popular month of basketball, then how is there not enough money to pay the players?

Athletes spend on average 55 hours a week practicing, lifting and playing their sports. This is more time than the typical student spends both attending classes and working. Without the opportunity for employment the majority of student-athletes live below the poverty-line. Ironically the students who pad the pockets of the universities and their organizations are not provided the time or means to feed themselves beyond what the school provides during hours of operation.

Although the NCAA claims that 79 percent of football players graduate, some would say this is an inflated number. This organization has created their own graduation rate system called the Graduation Success Rate Scale (GSR) for what they believe better represents the number of graduated athletes. However, this system uses athletes that have good grades who transfer, which counts as their graduation. The federal system that evaluates graduation claims if these transfers were not taken into account, the number of college football graduates is reduced to 64 percent with other graduation rate systems having the rate appear lower than this.

The main argument against student-athletes receiving payment is that their education is a form of payment. Said argument is understandable as going to college is an expensive experience. Having the opportunity to come out of college without any debt greatly helps to ease future financial burdens and puts the athletes at a monetary advantage. On top of this, athletic programs provide these students with emergency insurance and clothing.

A survey using 1,670 former student-athletes and non-athletes attempted to find the percent that receive jobs after college. They discovered that 42 percent of athletes had jobs compared to the 39 percent of non-athletes. The numbers show athletes have a slight advantage compared to normal students; the numbers are not significantly larger and although there is a difference, it is not great enough to assume that athletes gain much more of an advantage when applying to jobs.

These athletes deserve to be paid. If they receive a salary it has the potential to increase graduation rates and keep athletes playing in college longer. It could also help reduce illegal recruiting because coaches couldn’t use money to entice athletes. The amount of money these students provide to the universities and other organizations shows there are plenty of funds for some sports to pay their athletes. Sadly the only sports that currently make enough money to pay all athletes are football and men’s basketball.

The best solution, if it is ever decided these athletes should and will be paid, is to create programs similar to the emergency insurance and athletic clothing funds provided to the teams. One program could be in charge of providing athletes with a food allowance while another could be in charge of everyday expenses. Athletes are providing a service where people make money off of their talents, these athletes should not have to work on top of their already busy schedule.

There is no reason for these students to not receive payment. Unfortunately not every athlete can currently receive money; the reality is that football and basketball are extremely profitable and will continue to be exceptionally profitable. These young men are used frequently for marketing and work tremendously hard. It is time for them to be compensated.