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Should College Athletes Get Paid

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Student Athletes Deserve More than Scholarships

A Look into the Finances of Major College Sports Programs Student-athletes at major Division I-A colleges and universities do more than attend classes, practices, and compete against other teams. They generate revenue. Intercollegiate sports have developed into a highly specialized, multi-million dollar entertainment industry that rides on the shoulders of student-athletes. This industry has in turn resulted in substantial rewards for big time athletic programs and the NCAA. According to an NCAA survey conducted in 1998, sixty-seven percent of Division I-A football programs showed an average profit of $3.9 million with many of the largest programs far exceeding that figure (Netzley). Add in revenue from other sports and the NCAA took in $267 million in 1997-1998 (NCAA). Universities do not hide the importance they place on successful sports programs. In 1997, Steve Spurrier, head football coach at the University of Florida, signed a six-year contract that averaged $2 million per year. In addition to his $2 million annual salary, Spurrier was given two new cars, a generous clothing allowance and 24 prime tickets for each Gators home game. The deal also included incentives that would take effect when specific goals set forth in the contract are achieved (Martinez). He can earn $99,000 for winning another national championship. He can earn the equivalent of one month of his base salary for getting to the SEC championship game, two months equivalent for any bowl game, two-and-a-half months for an Alliance bowl game, and lastly, $50,000 for winning a third national championship (Martinez). Jeremy Foley, University of Florida Athletic Director, said after the signing, "Obviously, people are going to talk about the amount of money he's making, but he adds tremendous value to this university" (Martinez). While universities are eager to compensate coaches for the exploits of their players they are steadfast in their abidance of the NCAA Manual. Article 12 of the NCAA bylaws provides that "a student-athlete loses amateur status along with the right to participate in intercollegiate athletics when he is found to have received funds, awards, or other impermissible benefits established under NCAA legislation" (NCAA). These prohibitions on payment include direct compensation for athletic participation and receipt of financial aid above the cost of tuition, fees, room, board, and books (NCAA). While student-athletes directly contribute millions of dollars in revenue to institutions they receive nothing but the bare minimum cost to keep them in school. Most of these young men and women come from lower-middle class and lower-class families that are unable to send them spending money during the year or pay for a plane ticket home for the holidays (Martinez). The NCAA forbids student-athletes from working for wages during the school year (NCAA). If parents are unable to send their son or daughter money for anything not covered by their scholarship they are penniless. The solution to the money problem is simple: pay them. I am not talking about millions or even thousands of dollars. Give each student-athlete the same amount of pay based on the total revenue dollars their respective sport generates nationwide. The wage would be the same for every athlete based on division within the same sport. For example, Division I-A, the largest and most competitive division in college athletics, might pay each football player $2500 per season. Every football player in that division would receive the same amount regardless of on field contribution. Having every school abide by equal pay would eliminate larger, more profitable schools from offering bigger paydays to recruits as incentive to attend their institution over another. This would keep recruiting fair across the country for every school. Student-athletes endure countless hours of practice and athletic competition to earn pride, respect, and most importantly, money for their respective schools. Unfortunately, these athletes are taken out of the equation when it comes time to distribute the revenue generated by their



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