Should We Pay Student-Athletes?

There is an effort afoot to pay student-athletes on football or basketball scholarships at Division 1-A  schools. Some coaches are for it, some aren’t. The NCAA seems to be warming to some form of it.

I am against it.

The stipend proposed, $2,000 per student-athlete per year, seemingly small in itself, rubs it in for many regular students struggling to meet their own tuition, room, board and book bills.

What alarms me is the slippery slope this “pay for amateur performance” might evoke. How far behind this idea would agents lurk, upsetting even more the relationship between coach and athlete? The only reason this idea is being floated is the wrong-headed notion that athletes who fill the Saturday stadiums deserve a piece of the pie for doing so.

They don’t.

What this proposal ignores is the reward that already comes with a student-athlete scholarship, valued at more than $2,000,000 per student-athlete, as computed by Forbes Magazine for the top college football teams, and the recognition that they’ll benefit from this for the rest of their lives.

From Forbes: Despite recent claims that college football players are “oppressed” and “undervalued” relative to the revenue they generate for their universities, Forbes argues using “cost of attendance” and “projected earnings” data showing the average “value” of a college football scholarship is in excess of $2 million for student-athletes who (a) play for one of the Div. 1-A schools and (b) would not have pursued a college degree in the first place if it weren’t for their scholarship.

And for over 99% of Division I-A college football players on scholarship, this projected value in excess of $2 million is far greater than what any of them INDIVIDUALLY generates in revenue for their schools.

Television is both the culprit and the benefactor in this scenario. Heretofore unheard of amounts of dollars are flowing into college coffers from the television networks to satiate the thirst for viewing on the parts of alumni, students and fans.

These suggested proposals will be putting these hundreds of millions of dollars to poor use. Better that any money allocated for ill-advised payments to players should go to chemistry labs, libraries and tuition assistance to qualified students. That is a far better investment for America’s future.

Athletics pays for itself at only 11% of Div. 1-A schools, and student fees are already supporting athletic programs at all those institutions.

Furthermore, public Division I-A colleges and universities spend approximately $92,000 per year per student-athlete, but only $14,000 per non-student-athlete.

Multiply that $92,000 by four (years) and then double the annual earnings of a college graduate over a high school grad for a lifetime of work and I think you’ll agree the universities don’t owe the players anything more.

University presidents, be as fair to your students as you are to your student-athletes.

Your student-athletes are doing just fine.

5 responses to “Should We Pay Student-Athletes?

  1. Mike Svendsen

    I agree. I also think that fans are being asked to support the training and preparation of athletes for the Pros with the addition of “scholarship” fees to the ticket price. The additional $ are to improve facilities to add in recruiting. The pros and TV should be paying for their training camps not the fans. Mike Svendsen

  2. Cory Ruppel

    Totally agree. I was not paid for my 4 years at Michigan State or the 4 years at Northwestern University Dental School. I paid for my degrees and proud of that. Just because they are athletically gifted and work hard doesn’t entitle them to $$$.

  3. Right on, Mike. Good point on the NFL and
    and television suits bearing more of the
    costs of big time sports.

  4. Robert Chambers

    Hey Coach, thank you for stepping to the plate and sending one deep over the center field wall. You are too kind with your analogy of a “slippery slope” as I would go so far as to say it would be an “avalanche” that would compromise athletics and education in America for every child born.