During a federal landmark trial back in 2014, NCAA President Mark Emmert showed how stubborn and retroactive the NCAA is when it comes to considering paying college athletes for bringing in millions of dollars into their entity. The fear of paying athletes stems from wanting to maintain the ethics and innocence of collegiate sports. That is what the NCAA is selling anyone who decides to even spew such a “radical” idea to pay these young athletes.
“Traditions and keeping them are very important to universities. These individuals are not professionals. They are representing their universities as part of a university community,” said Emmert.
No one is buying this and if they are let’s see how they would feel clocking in for work everyday and having someone withhold their paycheck. That is essentially what is being done to these athletes. Yes, they get stipends and may even get financial aid, but that is nowhere near enough. No one is saying they need to be paid handsomely as millionaires, but there needs to be a number set so that players coming out of high school have an incentive to play college sports.
Look at college basketball as a prime example of the backlash they are facing for not paying these young players. Brandon Jennings, Emmanuel Mudiay, Terrance Ferguson, LiAngelo Ball, LaMelo Ball, and, now, Billy Preston are playing or played some time overseas professionally. They passed up the chance to provide exposure to a university, have sellout crowds, and watch their jerseys get bought by fans only to never see the real percentage of what they deserve. And who could blame them?
Another area of concern is the amount of talent college baseball could be missing out on as a lot of players bypass the NCAA altogether and go straight to the professional ranks. Why work 3.3 hours more than the average American, according to Forbes, only to get stiffed? Paying college athletes would give players a reason to consider going the traditional route to get to the professional level coming out of high school.
Also, let’s think about another set of problems with the NCAA. A lot of the money being generated is not being put back into classrooms or even the universities for that matter. Instead, a lot of this money is being put into the administration’s pockets or other NCAA aficionados. President Emmert makes 1.4 billion annually and let’s not forget about college coaches who make a hefty amount of money. Nick Saban made 11 million last year while Mike Krzyzewski made nearly 7.3 million according to Business Insider. It sends a bad message to players when coaches and NCAA personnel are reeling in the big bucks, but they can’t even see a fraction of their salary.
Some of you are thinking “UH HELLO THEY AREN’T PROS.” NCAA sports is essentially semi-pro as they put a lot of work into their craft. While you get to enjoy the holiday season, these athletes are still on campus playing ball. They miss out on spring break too. To those of you that feel like paying athletes will make it unfair for the smaller schools, that is true with an expiration date attached to it. If you look through the decades of college sports, you see that over time things began to balance itself out. That is why Boise State and San Diego State have risen in football. That is why mid majors always crash the party in the NCAA Tournament in men and women’s college hoops like Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson in “Wedding Crashers.”
The stipends these players receive or the meal plans they are on are not enough. They cannot survive on top ramen noodles and butt bread slices while carrying the weight of a university on their shoulders. Shabazz Napier, during his magical run at Connecticut when they won the title in 2014, eluded to the fact that there were nights where he would go to sleep on an empty stomach. The NCAA will say paying athletes will ruin the outcome in athletics. No, starving student athletes will ruin the outcome.
The premise behind paying athletes is not to flood their pockets with cash beyond their wildest dreams. It is to provide a more comfortable way of living as a growing athlete that not only has to live up to academic expectations, but expectations in their respected sport. They go above and beyond to give fans and viewers around the world an exhilarating experience. It is time for the NCAA to match that effort and consider the “Pay for Play” proposition. Especially if they are generating 11 billion dollars annually.