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As the money changing hands raises, the debate rages on throughout college athletics as to whether student-athletes should get a part of the profits. What is clear is currently these athletes do not partake in the millions of dollars in profit. This fact leads to a multitude of questions. What is happening, positively or negatively, as a result of players not receiving direct payment? Do officials think the players are not mature enough to handle the money, is there a lack of additional monetary resources or could there possibly be another reason? The effects of this can be felt nationwide by the hundreds of universities that take part in National Collegiate Athletic Association competitions. For this reason, the friction between the NCAA and players is crucial and needs to be addressed.
One of the arguments as to why players should not be paid is because some feel they are already compensated for their efforts. In addition to receiving free tuition, housing, and all school fees no charge, players at top-level institutions receive training in state of the art facilities, which can prepare them for a professional career. An article written for the Star-Tribune in Casper, Wyoming says a typical athlete will stay for five years. This comes out to well over $100,000 and this amount does not include the training or the “campus experience” the athletes receive (Wrong Idea). Another monetary factor, which limits payment to players, is the lack of funds at most schools. According to Jeffery Dorfman only 23 of the 128 Football Bowl Subdivision, the highest level of college football, made money in 2012. Dorfman notes the number varies year to year, but is typically in the low twenties or less. This presents an issue, because if there isn’t extra money where is there money to pay the players? This would result in two primary options: either cut non-revenue sports, which typically receive funding by revenue sports such as men’s basketball and football, or cut cost from athletic department officials and coaches. Even if they decided to make these cuts the money still may not be enough for lower level programs. If a college football team paid players just a tenth of the National Football League’s rookie minimum, $420,000, it would still cost the team over $3 million for a entire team.
Another cause proponents against paying players use is the players simply are not mature enough to handle a salary. One example used is looking at current professional athletes. A multitude of players just a few years after their respective careers end are scraping the bottom of their bank accounts. This leads to the argument that if grown men cannot handle the money then how can college aged students? However, those for paying players use this same example to illustrate why athletes should be paid. These proponents make the case that if these poor ex-professional athletes would have learned how to manage money in college they would not go bankrupt late in life. This situation is tricky, because it is more of a what if situation since there is no concrete way to prove one way or the other.
However, what if the reason players do not receive this money is others want it for themselves? Another cause for not paying players could be the result of one of the seven deadly sins– greed. Since 2006 the average college football coach’s salary has increased by 70 percent to nearly $1.7 million (Gregory). These increased salaries take money from the profits and into the coaches’ pockets. Some say pay raises for coaches is a disgrace, because the coaches’ salaries are constantly increasing to university bidding wars over the best coaches, but the real source, the players, make almost nothing in comparison. Greed also presents itself in the form of video game companies like Electronic Arts. EA used to have a series of “NCAA football” video games. However, this line was shut down due to a lawsuit by former NCAA basketball star Ed O’Bannon and former quarterback Sam Keller. O’Bannon and Keller are suing the NCAA and attempting to retroactively get money they believed they earned. O’Bannon is seeking “money the NCAA earns from licensing former players images” (Elias). The O’Bannon lawsuit is just one of the many parties which are effected by the money flowing in the world of college athletics, but a key one. The series was discontinued because the NCAA did not renew their contract with EA forcing them to cancel plans for future games.
In theory, the groups for paying players are correct it only seems fair to award the athletes for their hard work and dedication to their respective universities. However, in reality it just is not possible. The bureaucratic red tape combined with the overall lack of funding results in a situation where the players are given a reasonable compensation for their time and work. To put everything into perspective one must consider not only the education but also training for a potential pro-career. Both of these result in a mindset that the education and training are fair compensation for an athlete’s time. This mindset combined with the negative stereotypes about athletes and money leads to the varying causes for not paying players. The debates goes on but what is clear is that whether it be a mindset that they are already fairly compensated, that the athletes cannot handle the money, or that others are just simply greedy for the money there are multiple causes as to why athletes do not receive monetary compensation.
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