There is a movement afoot to provide a stipend, legalese for “pay,” to student athletes in college, in addition to their tuition, books, and lodging. The rationale for this is driven by the large crowds in football stadiums and basketball arenas throughout the country where the 128 Division 1-A teams play. In essence the question is, “since all this revenue is being created, why aren’t those responsible getting a financial piece of it?”
That logic is true in the NFL and both the NBA and the WNBA. Athletes playing at that level are paid commensurate with their talent, as it should be.
In college, athletes on athletic scholarships are given an opportunity to enjoy the benefits of athletic involvement while pursuing a degree, the attainment of which will mean additional income averaging a million dollars more during their working lifetimes through such attainment.
During this four year process of athletics and learning, they also receive free tuition, books and living accommodations, and often, meals in season. They will have no student loans due upon graduation as compared to the $100,000 regular students are saddled with. They are duly rewarded for playing.
The argument for paying student/athletes is the misguided notion that with as much revenue as their actions in stadiums and arenas are providing, why shouldn’t they get some of that financial action? I suggest indeed they already are with their scholarships and attendant benefits.
A major problem is that far too many student/athletes do not take full advantage of the opportunities afforded them. Only 58% of football players and 47% of basketball players graduate. That is disgraceful.
I suggest that some of that money generated by revenue at games should be apportioned to the school’s athletic departments for closely monitored academic training curriculums aimed at increasing those atrocious graduation rates.
Another misguided notion athletes have is thinking their professional playing days will benefit them greatly with the added income a pro career provides.
However, less than 3% of college athletes will play professionally. Of all the senior football players in high school, only 2% will receive scholarships. Doing the math, those numbers show that .999935% of all boys playing high school football will never make a nickel playing in the NFL.
On the other hand, an education is forever.
The 128 Division 1-A Football programs have an aggregate coaching salary structure that adds up to nearly half a billion bucks a year. Even a small diversion of that money towards fully educating and graduating athletes would go a long way towards lifting those graduation rates upwards.
As far as asking the regular student body to ante up through increased student fees, that seems misguided as well, seeing they are already donating to the athletic programs, whether they go to the games or not.
Paying players invites a whole host of problems such as agents on campus representing potential clients in college getting more money than other players.
More on this issue in future Coach’s Corners.