Should the NCAA Pay Student-Athletes to Play … NO WAY!

I haven’t done much of this type of blogging, but the following is my reaction to the “Pay for Play” article in Sports Illustrated a few months ago.

Currently, the NCAA does not allow for universities to pay its players a salary. There is a lot of controversy surrounding the “pay for play” issue, but Sports Illustrated created a business model around the idea of universities paying its student-athletes. Within this new business model, the biggest issue I see, which isn’t examined in depth, is why players should be paid in the first place.

College is a privilege, not a right. Not everyone deserves to (or should go to) college. If you work hard, whether it be academically, athletically, artistically or in any other capacity, there is an opportunity for you to go to college. There is no denying that the ability to go to college is easier for some than others. However, life is not fair and if that’s the battle you want to fight, your issue is larger than just higher education or athletics. Scholarships are available from several different sources, whether it be private and public organizations, the federal government and individual institutions, to allow the people that deserve to go to college the right to go to college.

Too many people think that it is their right to go to college and this is especially present in the millennial generation. This generation grew up over protected, constantly encouraged — to a fault and expects everything to be served to them on a silver platter. Each university has a certain amount of slots to fit students into, which is what makes getting into college competitive. There are now more students than ever applying to college, which means more students are getting rejected. Students are getting rejected are qualified for the schools in which they are applying, but there just isn’t the space. In order to get into college, it is about setting yourself apart from the competition. This means, for some people, making the deans list, and for others, this means going to the gym everyday to practice their jump shot. The student must make it apparent to the university why it wants the student to represent their institution.

When any student is accepted to college or gets recruited by a university to come to their institution, the student is faced with a decision. The student must decide which school is the best fit for them. Every student and his or her family must weigh all the options and figure out what are his or her priorities. These priorities may range from the distance a school is from home, the school’s tuition, scholarship money received, greek life opportunities to the prestige of the university or the student’s access to do additional research. Following the step of tracing out priorities, each university can be evaluated in order for the student to make the best possible decision. This decision making process is valid and happens for all students; it does not matter if the student goes for athletics or not. It is forgotten by many that a student-athlete is a student just like any other attendee of the university. When a student-athlete, who is on full scholarship, gets to the school, they are expected to play the sport and live up to his or her end of the contract. If the student-athlete represents the school through athletics, the school will cover the student’s cost of tuition and living expenses. There should not be anymore to the issue. The opportunity is extraordinary for student-athletes. If they represent the school athletically, they will get an education that most people do not get. If that is not enough for the student-athlete, they then have the option to leave their team, therefore forfeiting their scholarship to the university. The university is bigger than any individual athlete. The University of North Carolina is still a prestigious university and the basketball program still exists without Michael Jordan, just like the University of Missouri still exists and its basketball program are not suffering after last year’s blue chip recruit Tony Mitchell failed to receive eligibility from the NCAA. There will always be another student-athlete to take another’s spot, when one leaves.

While it is easier to directly equate a star student-athlete’s effect on the bottom line compared to most other students, what does it say to other students about school’s priorities to pay the top football player and not pay the top chemistry or engineering student that led to the university being called a pioneer in research and development? There is no doubt that the restrictions placed on student-athletes are strict, and so maybe those restrictions need to be reevaluated, but the solution is not paying student-athletes on top of their scholarship. A student-athlete’s schedule is full because of the large time commitment playing a varsity or club sport is at the collegiate level, but that’s a choice the student-athlete makes. That decision to commit to sports during college is no different than a dedication journalism student committing themselves to KOMU or a biology student dedicating all their time to the science laboratory.

There are many issues within the NCAA and I am not in favor paying student-athletes on top of tuition, but the one part of the Sports Illustrated article that I think would be a great idea for the NCAA to utilize is the idea of partial scholarships. This strategy would be effective and benefit the NCAA, individual universities, and the student-athletes in several different ways.

The use of partial scholarships gives more students the ability to get financial help through scholarships. Some of the massive amounts of walk-on players would be able to get rewarded similarly to their teammates that walked in the door on scholarships. This would also make student-athletes choose schools on how much money they received just like many other college students. The student-athlete would have to decide between a half scholarship to schools like the University of Texas and a full ride to the University of Houston. This decision would make student-athletes really figure out where their priorities lie in going to college. Subsequently, the act of schools making the decision to offer student-athletes full versus half scholarships would create even more competition and parity within the NCAA. And when there is more competition to compete with Texas football, North Carolina basketball, Iowa wrestling and Minnesota hockey there becomes more interest surrounding all sports. Furthermore, the increased interest and competition helps make all programs more profitable.

With the ability for universities to administer half scholarships and be on a level playing field as other NCAA schools, no matter the sport, the schools would be forced to make even stronger character decisions on student-athletes. The big schools in their respective sports would still be the class of each sport, but the bench of those school’s teams would not be necessarily be better than every other school just because of the school they play for.

The bottom line is this: if the NCAA continues to not pay the student-athletes and manage the use of partial scholarships, then the academic institutions that the student-athletes are representing would remain larger than individual people and provide the best place for all students, athletes and non-athletes, to take part in the full college and educational experience that is the purpose of these universities.

2 Responses to “Should the NCAA Pay Student-Athletes to Play … NO WAY!”
  1. Jared says:

    I belive that they should pay college athletes. They basically make alot of money for the college. I just watched a video on how it feels to be a NCAA athlete. Check it out: v

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