There has been a lot of talk about players receiving improper benefits, and a possible solution is they should be paid a share of the enormous amounts of money that many of our favorite college football programs are raking in.
I know that I’m not the first to voice my opinion, but this is a topic that is near and dear to me as a former scholarship holder (non-athletic). I made the decision to take advantage of an offer for a free education and am to this day endlessly grateful for it.
I have to admit that I’ve been on both sides of the fence of this topic, as it relates to college athletics. I don’t want to appear to be a “flip-flopper,” but I do understand the frustration that a player may feel when he sees his jersey being sold in the campus bookstore for $75.00 and he isn’t ever going to see a penny of the revenues.
However, I believe that the student athletes are already being paid.
Most student athletes experience the pleasure of a full-ride academic scholarship with all the trimmings. The majority of students have no scholarship and go through college with little or no help. Some even hold down a couple of jobs while negotiating a full-time class schedule.
A free education is compensation for playing football, basketball or marching band. Take it or leave it, because there are thousands of students who would take it.
All student athletes have the advantage of tutoring services located within academic support centers that non-athlete students aren’t even allowed to enter in many cases.
The advantages that are afforded to student athletes at even the smallest of schools are such that every student athlete is given the opportunity to succeed.
Not Everyone Can Afford It
While a school like the University of Alabama may have little trouble providing a student athlete with more money to comply with a NCAA mandate, what are the smaller schools without the huge budgets to do?
Compare the athletic department balance sheets within the University of Wisconsin system. According to the Indianapolis Star, University of Wisconsin athletics show a $95,000 budgetary surplus for 2010.
Conversely, the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay shows only a $14,000 surplus. That is hardly enough to provide every athlete with a stipend above what is already provided.
Am I sounding heavy-handed? Perhaps so, but I believe that the mission of our colleges and universities is to educate people. Scholarships are a way to facilitate the education of those who wouldn’t otherwise have the means to attend.
Scholarships were not intended to be a way to attract top athletes to a school who have no interest in gaining an education. But, in many cases, that’s what they have become.
Much of what the NCAA purports to stand for is equality among all. So how will they police each and every school in ensuring that each and every student athlete receives the same amount of benefit?
They can’t seem to do it now, so how will they do it once players can be paid as professionals?