Should Student Athletes Get Paid?
By David Leonardi
Lion’s Roar Staff
February 8, 2019
For years, there has been a controversy over if student athletes at college, mostly at the Division I level, should get paid. In 2015, the 231 Division I schools with data available made $9.15 billion. However, only 24 schools made over $100 million while the rest make a lot less.
When it comes to the lower division schools in Division II and III, they make a lot less where it would be pointless to pay the students as they don’t make nearly as much as the higher divisions. For the schools that have the money to pay athletes, they would have to pay every student-athlete in order for it to be fair.
The University of Texas generates one of the largest revenues year after year. In 2017, they had a record-breaking $214.8 million revenue. If they paid each student-athlete (all 682 of them), they’d each get $314,956.01 in their pockets. The NCAA made over a billion dollars in the 2016-17 school year. However, an average school like the University of Rhode Island made only $702,792, which is a significant decrease compared to Texas. URI has around 450 student athletes in both men’s and women’s sports. If they split that individually, they would then give each student roughly $1,500, which is the equivalent to working only four 40 hour work weeks on minimum wage. Also, the revenue made has to be used for other aspects of college life such as uniforms, equipment, coach and staff contracts, scholarships, and many other aspects, leaving the kids with even less.
The point of playing college sports is no different than any other type of student on campus. They are to compete for their spot and against others, while working towards a career. So, why wouldn’t other students who aspire to be lawyers, doctors, and other occupations receive money? Aren’t they of the same importance as everyone is created equal and all work on the same goal?
One argument used is that student athletes don’t have the time for a job to get money, since they travel and have practices and games. However, other students have internships and actual classes to attend and homework to do, as it well known professors are lenient with student-athletes, already given special treatment and don’t have to work as hard for a degree rather than a regular student. Many schools, such as the University of North Carolina recently, have become embroiled in scandals where student-athletes have been allowed to eschew some harder required classes in order to focus on sports.
Also, if college sports became a money game, then athletes would only want to play where they can make the most money, decreasing the talent levels and quality of teams who don’t make as much as it then turns into a job. Also, at colleges such as Texas where a student-athlete could make a cool million dollars over their four years, they wouldn’t have to work for years and when they do they have a degree they don’t have the same knowledge an actual student would have. Obviously, this is not the case for all student-athletes as there are students that actually learn and use their degree. However, a lot of student-athletes who go for Division I schools go to make it to the professional level and pick a random degree just to be admitted. Making Division I sports a payable system would also depreciate the value of playing Division II and III sports.
Student-athletes make huge sacrifices by spending a majority of their time playing the sport they went to the college for. But some of the athletes also get there on scholarship, having their schooling paid for while getting the special treatment to pass the classes that already have a reduced payment. Student-athletes should not be paid.