Why Collegiate Athletes Should Be Paid

Corey Walker@coreyalexander5Contributor IIFebruary 19, 2013

MOBILE, AL - JANUARY 26:  Mike Glennon #8 of the North squad drops back to pass against the South squad during the Senior Bowl at Ladd Peebles Stadium on January 26, 2013 in Mobile, Alabama.  The South won the game 21-16.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Stacy Revere/Getty Images

One of the most laughable statements is that “the NCAA is an amateur league.” Every time someone says this to me, I just turn my head sideways and give a confused look.

“Are you serious?” I would think to myself.

The NCAA should allow their athletes to get paid, because the NCAA has grown to become much more than what it used to be.


Academics? Who Cares?

Another ludicrous statement is that college athletes should not be compensated for their contributions, and that the NCAA cares about academics. The NCAA could not care less about academics.

If a player on the Texas Longhorns football team had a 4.0 GPA, but struggled to perform, he would not have his scholarship renewed. That’s just the ugly truth of college sports.

Furthermore, if a coach graduated over ninety-eight percent of his players but struggled to win, the coach would still be fired. If a coach graduated sixty percent of his players and won the national championship, he would receive a contract extension, a bonus and a statue on campus. 


Dispelling the “Amateur” Factor

It’s not uncommon to find that college coaches at high-profile programs are the highest-paid public employees in their entire state. 

According to a study published by USA Today, college football coaches were paid, on average, $1.47 million in 2011. When singling out coaches in the six BCS automatic-qualifying conferences, average pay jumped to $2.11 million

Furthermore, I find it hard to believe an amateur league would have 100,000-seat stadiums, multi-millionaire donors, massive recruiting budgets and their own video game franchise. There’s nothing amateur about that.

One of the louder wake-up calls came when the University of Tennessee announced that they were taking money from their scholarship fund to help land a new head coach for the football team. 

A real amateur league would be a bunch of guys in their mid-thirties meeting up at the YMCA every Friday to play pick-up basketball.

If they were really amateur, they wouldn’t have their own special dining halls, dorms and be escorted to their classes by security guards. In fact, many of these guys are pretty much more celebrities than students.

The NCAA’s delusion that they are amateur is a flat-out lie.


Socioeconomic Factors Play a Huge Role

It’s no secret that many of the players at the collegiate level come from rough upbringings. Many of them played sports because they thought that it was their one way out of a life of struggle. 

Not every player is as lucky to grow up in a stable, wealthy, two-parent household like Matt Barkley.

Many of these players have struggled financially for their entire lives. To place them in a situation where they do the majority of the work and everyone else around them gets paid, then expect them to not accept benefits is insane.

If I weren’t receiving any financial assistance from home, yet I was playing in a stadium of roaring fans that were wearing my jersey and buying my posters, I would feel entitled to compensation. 

Why should I be enraged that Terelle Pryor received a free tattoo while at Ohio State, when Ohio State made $118 million in football revenue in 2009?

The editor-in-chief of the school newspaper usually receives a stipend for their work; so why shouldn’t a player receive the same? After all, aren’t they contributing to the university more than almost anyone by bringing national attention and money onto the campus?

If I were a collegiate star, I would take any benefit I could and not feel guilty about it, because the NCAA is a hypocritical organization that has no problem cutting ties with you if you are not of benefit.


How to Fix the Problem

With the rules the way they are, the problems will always remain. What the NCAA needs to do is allow the players to make money. They should be given living stipends, just like other employees of the universities are.

They also shouldn’t be penalized for accepting benefits like a free taco or a free watch.

It’s time that we realize that these guys are celebrities in their own right. They go out and play in front of millions of people on a constant basis, and we’re seriously supposed to believe that they’re going to be treated like the average student?

Of course they get special perks that come with all the celebrity and attention.

The ugly truth is that the media and fans have turned these guys into celebrities, and we’re never going back to the way it used to be.

The NCAA has no problem lining their pockets, so the players shouldn’t either.