Disagreements over paying collegiate athletes

College athletics remains a multi-billion dollar industry, and as evidenced by the recent arrests of four basketball coaches by the FBI for corruption and bribery, plenty of people in the industry make millions of dollars, sometimes illegally, off of the game.

Yet, college students still compete as amateurs in all athletic competitions and the NCAA always refers to them as student-athletes. With the recent scandal bringing money in college athletics to the forefront once again, we thought it would be best to revisit the issue of paying collegiate athletes. The transcript below has been lightly edited.

Noah Crowley, Staff Reporter (NC): Yes, they should—at least in Division I. They are already given scholarship opportunities and chances at multi-million dollar jobs, yes, but they are also providing a huge source of income for the universities. I’m not arguing for a large salary or anything. I just believe they should be paid an amount comparable to other students doing work-study jobs.

Jacob Rayyan, Staff Reporter (JR): I have thought about this a lot. I have come to the conclusion that I do not think they should be getting paid. Due to the fact that most of them are on a full ride, I do not think as students they should be getting paid for a volunteer sport.  I acknowledge that they are bringing in massive amounts of income into the universities, but I still feel uncomfortable with the idea of people getting paid full salaries for it. I realize my opinion is probably not the most popular one. I can see the argument for both sides however.

Sanjay Annigeri, Staff Reporter (SA): I would have to agree with Noah that student-athletes should be paid. Not only do they bring value to the college, they contribute a bulk of their time to pursuing sports. Money would create a safety net for them, as according to the NCAA’s own advertisement starring Jerry Rice that says, “Of over 480,000 college athletes, only two percent will go pro.”

Getting paid would ensure the other 98 percent athletes who don’t go pro get a stipend for their time commitment, along with benefits to pursue their degrees.

JR: I have to say I don’t agree with Sanjay, the players know very well the small percentage of NCAA athletes that go on to play professional. No one is forcing them to commit their time to the game. It’s voluntary. Getting paid would be a nice compensation for their efforts and the money they bring to the university, that argument can absolutely be made. I don’t think it’s a valid argument to say they should be a paid a stipend for their time commitment, that is completely their choice and they do it for the love of the game.

NC: I can’t agree with the argument of giving money because of that 98 percent. Universities don’t give people extra money for being in a major where only two percent make a high income. But I believe any university that profits off of its sporting teams should pay its athletes a small salary for their work.

JR: While I think that free education and essentially most other costs being covered is enough of a payment for a student, I would agree that if they were to be paid, the reason that they should be paid is because of the amount of money that they bring into the schools.

Andrew Ford, Staff Reporter (AF): Like I believe Noah said, only Division I athletes should be compensated and only those sports with TV deals that bring in money. However, the money should only be given after the player has graduated.

This will do two things: one, it will raise graduation rates and encourage student-athletes to finish out their degree (looking at you college basketball); two, it will ensure that athletes who are simply going to college as a pathway to the pros are not siphoning money from the more committed student-athletes who give all four years (in some cases five) to a program.

There are many smart people in the world and with time and effort they could create a plan that would make sure each player gets compensated fairly at the end of their time with a program.  This solution is a win-win for all sides, but if you see a flaw with this proposal feel free to call me out.

JR: I think Andrew’s plan is a fair compromise. While I still think student-athletes are being fairly compensated currently, I like the idea of holding off on paying them until graduation to promote graduation rates.

That being said, I think this would only solve the problem for athletes who don’t go on to the pro level. I understand that group represents 98 percent of the players, but the two percent that actually are professional-level caliber players would just leave whenever they wanted to, knowing the amount of money they would be foregoing upon graduating is miniscule compared to their potential earnings in a professional league.

SA: I agree with Andrew’s proposed plan also. The only “flaw” I would see is if a player completes their degree, graduates early and goes pro. For example, [look at] Deshaun Watson. However, this isn’t really a flaw as the player is still completing their education.

The one interesting question that I would be thinking about is how would paying student-athletes affect the minds of those mid-tier prospects who have a 50-50 shot of being drafted. Would it prevent them from leaving college as they know they have an income source and don’t want to risk going undrafted? Or would they take the risk, and if not drafted, try to struggle to sign with a team as an undrafted free agent?