June 17, 2011

Paying NCAA Athletes

Seems like every few years, there is another push to consider paying NCAA Student Athletes.  I can remember when I was a player, there was always talk of the possibility of getting paid above our scholarships.  Recently, there have been some higher profile 'voices' calling for consideration - The Big 10 Conference has said it should be considered and Steve Spurrier, the Head Football Coach at South Carolina has said athletes should be paid.

A few quick thoughts:

1.  NCAA Student Athletes are already being paid.  Some are being paid a full scholarship, while others are on some type of other scholarship arrangement.

2.  For the Big 10 and for Coach Spurrier to come out publicly to suggest this shows just how out of touch with reality these two major entities are;  the economy is still in the tank,  many states are going through huge public education budget cuts, million dollar coach's salaries are being paid for marginal achievement, both entities are tied in with sports which field the lowest graduation rates, yet we are going to pay athletes?

3.  Such a suggestion will just go towards a clear separation between the haves and the have nots of conference athletics.  Power conferences will just overwhelm the mid majors in every possible way..  Because of fundraising or the willingness of large state schools to absorb monetary losses, power conferences can pay a player, while the lower conferences only can scholarship.

4.  In a larger sense, what kind of a societal impact will this have?  I love sports and college athletic participation allowed me obtain my university degree, but sports are just entertainment; they bring nothing substantive to society. Seriously, unless you are physically participating in the sport, the only thing sports provide is entertainment for people to watch.   If anything, the biochemist, or the mathematician, or the engineer should be getting paid above their scholarships because they have the potential to better the world we live in.  Again, I love sports and participating in sports and I pay my bills (barely) by coaching a sport, but it is just entertainment for the interested masses.

5.  How would this 'paying' of the players work? Do all athletes get paid? Only the ones on scholarship?  What about the walk on who kicks the winning field goal?  The scholarship bench player?  The male athlete?  The female athlete?  Do all of these players get paid the same or are they rated upon some criteria?  Graduation rates versus winning record?  Personal statistics versus intrinsic value to a program?

6. Athletic Departments are a money losing operation, even by the NCAA's own studies and reviews commissioned by specific higher education organizations.  How can we pay players when the Athletic Department loses money?

7.  If you really want to 'pay players' then just increase their scholarship room and board amounts - Don't provide a separate amount because this will just make the dirtiness of college athletics even dirtier.

Just some thoughts on this re-occurring topic.

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