Should College Athletes get paid?

The NCAA has been surrounded in many scandals lately with their “amateur” athletes receiving payments from boosters, fans and alumni with ties to their programs. This issue stems from the NCAA’s rules that athletes are not allowed to receive payments in any way, from anyone.

Part of this issue comes from the schools and programs recruiting athletes and offering them payment in the process. A recent scandal reported by ESPN involving Arizona’s head basketball coach Sean Miller was talking to a sports agent, which was recorded on a wiretap phone call. The discussion was about a $100,000 payment to get Deandre Ayton enrolled at the school. Ayton played last season with Arizona and was recently declared eligible for the NBA Draft. There have been other violations reported by ESPN, such as Michigan State’s Miles Bridges, who was forced to donate $40 to a charity to regain eligibility after it was revealed that his parents had dinner with an agent and let him pay without Bridge’s being aware at all. Bridges also played the most recent season for Michigan State before declaring for the NBA Draft.

The issue that some members of the Beacon Editorial Board have with the NCAA not allowing players to receive any kinds of payment stems from a recent report from USA Today back in early March, which stated that the NCAA brought in close to $1.1 billion during the 2017 fiscal year. While this number is really astonishing, the expense report did come out to around $956 million. There is still a big chunk of money left for NCAA officials to play with, and the issue is that they are a non-profit.

Wilkes University’s new head football coach Jonathan Drach shared his opinion.

“The NCAA generates revenue from the football and basketball athletes [both popular American sports] who are forced to develop in the NCAA because their sports lack a minor league development system. I believe that college athletes should be compensated for the revenue that is brought in by them, but it needs to be regulated so there is not a recruiting gap between the powerhouse schools and the middle tier programs.”

The NFL and NBA both lack minor league systems that the two other major American sports use. The NBA has started the G-League recently, but it is still a work in progress. The lack of minor league systems lead these athletes to the NCAA. The NFL requires athletes three year years removed from high school and usage of your college eligibility. The NBA has the famous “1-and-done” rule which requires athletes to be one year removed from high school, sending most of them to college. A select few play overseas.

NCAA President Mark Emmert stated that “I think the other issue is that if you were going to move into a model where you were just playing football and basketball athletes—at least that’s the argument that always comes forward—the way athletic departments are going to do that is they’re going to eliminate other sports. There’s really no other way for them to do it. … you would eliminate all the other sports that are out there in order to do that and take away opportunities from men and women.”

Emmert’s argument is a common one that has worked so far to keep from paying the athletes. But there is still a chunk of money that is missing from the revenue generated and expense statements. They should at the very least be compensated for what they are worth, which is more than their education because most do not stay to finish their degrees. The athletic departments of each school should still have the funds to support the other athletic programs while the Division 1 athletes receive a regulated compensation.

Wilkes University’s head strength and conditioning coach Keith Klahold sides with Emmert on this hot topic. “They absolutely should not be paid. One can argue that these athletes are getting paid to begin with. At all levels, college athletes receive benefits that other students do not get like a strength coach for their team, access to a support staff in their coaches, and treatments from athletic trainers. All athletes are equal to each other so everyone should be paid or nobody should.” Klahold’s thoughts are not uncommon, and The Beacon does agree that there will be controversy between athletes from different sports. The thing is, it should not matter if the other sports have a problem with these athletes getting paid. The Division 1 football and basketball athletes make the most money, baseball and softball bring in minimal funds from their respective tournaments due to their popularity.

We believe that if the other athletes feel that they should be paid with the football and basketball players, they should see that their sports for the most part are funded by the popularity of these tournaments. Baseball and softball can support themselves, but they do not help the NCAA profit. Therefore they do not need to be compensated for their worth.

Our thoughts are that Division 1 football and basketball players should receive payment for the revenue they bring the NCAA. The NCAA should regulate the payment and pay all the football and basketball athletes an equal amount, regulating it to ensure that the bigger, juggernaut programs do not get another recruiting advantage. The athletes getting paid should not be paid a large sum of money, or large compared to the millions of the dollars they would make in the NBA, but a small sum of a few thousand dollars, based on the left over money and what they bring in. Once the NCAA decides to pay their players, fewer athletes will think about going straight to the G-league or going overseas before the draft which will increase the talent pool the NCAA has. This turns into a ripple effect; when the talent level increases, it draws more viewers, which leads to more revenue for the NCAA.

It is understood that the amateur status will be lost once the NCAA pays these athletes, but to keep the the game pure, the athletes should still not be allowed to sign with agents and they should not be allowed to sign endorsement deals. The athletes get paid for the revenue they bring in, and they game is still pure. Some people say the game is better because the lack of payment is for the love of the game but the payment is minimal, and the athletes play for future paychecks at this point anyway, which is why they declare for the draft when they do, to ensure they get paid at the best time.