College sports are big business. For many universities, the athletic program serves as a cash-generating machine. Exploited athletes generate millions of dollars for the NCAA and their schools, and never see a dime. In terms of profit, if all ties with the university were eliminated, an athletic program acting as its own separate entity could compete with some fortune 500 companies. So, why do the vital pieces of the machine, the players, fail to receive any compensation for their performance? The answer lies in the money-hungry NCAA and their practice of hoarding all the revenue. College athletes should receive payment for their play to make their college experience more bearable because they create huge profits and have no other way to earn money during the year.
Most college athletes are not wealthy and among the many rules imposed for these privileged individuals, they are not permitted to carry jobs, receive money, rewards, or any type of kickbacks from any sources other than family. The NCAA does not allow their athletes to hold jobs because the job issue has ramifications on recruiting. The NCAA believes some schools would have an unfair recruiting advantage over other schools. That one school could offer a recruit a better job opportunity than another. There is an issue that jobs in different locations would pay athletes different salaries.
Life wouldn’t be so hard for many of the student-athletes if they were permitted to hold jobs. But the NCAA does not permit scholarship players to be employed during the school year. During the summer, these athletes are forced to train, practice, and compete in order to keep their roster position. This leaves little time to earn money. The lifestyle of a student-athlete is quite different than a regular student. A student-athlete must attend practice for 10 to 20 hours per week, travel to games on most weekends during the season, and at the same time, keep up with an academic workload comparable to that of a student without commitment to athletics. Opponents against paying student-athletes say that they should not be paid because through scholarships, they’re already being paid. Yes, a scholarship is a form of payment. A scholarship is nice, but it is not enough. A scholarship will not pay the bills. Moreover, unlike ordinary students without athletics, student-athletes must also many times care for families and spouses. Actually, approximately 24% of student athletes are married, and of that 24%, about 62% have children. Of the students without their own spouses or children, many must care for parents and siblings.
It wouldn’t hurt universities to give back a little. The average Division One School profits $6 million per year on basketball and football alone. Consider that, some universities such as the university of Florida or University of Michigan profit more than $10 million per year on their respective athletic programs. At least three-college football teams; Michigan, Florida, and Notre Dame, are each worth more than the NFL’s Detroit Lions. Today, networks and cable channels pay hundreds of millions of dollars for the right to televise college football games. NCAA basketball, which has its wildly popular March Madness, is currently in the middle of a contract that pays almost $2 billion. Awkwardly enough, the money ends up in the pockets of the NCAA and respective universities.
Another sign of the amount of dollars in college athletics is the salaries being paid to the coaches. Recently, Steve Spurrier, head football coach at the University of Florida, signed a six-year contract that will pay him nearly $2 million per year. Plus his $2 million annual salary, Spurrier received two new cars (one for him, one for his wife), a generous clothing allowance and 24 fifty yard-line tickets for each Florida Gators home game. The deal also includes incentives that would be paid when specific goals set forth in the contract are achieved. The incentive’s portion of the contract says: “Spurrier can earn $99,000 for winning another national championship this year; 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 national championship any time throughout the contract.” Some people may ask why a man who merely coaches a collegiate football team deserved that kind of money. Well, since big time college football brings in the kind of money that can support that salary, so be it. Athletic Director Jeremy Foley said upon the signing, “Obviously, people are going to talk about the amount of money he’s making, but he adds tremendous value to this university.” Value that the players create.
Think about it, Spurrier can earn these bonuses only if his players perform at a championship level. THE PLAYERS. They’re the one’s who have to sweat, work, and win. These are the same “employees” who will not receive bonuses for reaching any of the goals of Spurrier’s contract. The ones who fill the stadiums full of fans, the ones who people yell at when they drop a pass and the ones that people cheer for when they score the game-winning touchdown. The same people who are forced to be content with what they have, because they have no opportunity at this time to get more. Nevertheless, the decision is not up to the universities alone. The NCAA resides over them as well.
The NCAA uses the name amateurism as the reason it doesn’t pay student-athletes. Under current NCAA regulations, “all student athletes are prohibited from receiving any payment for their efforts”. Is this fair? The rules and regulations regarding the student-athlete are set forth by the NCAA, which serves as the governing body over college athletics. The NCAA does not pay either state or federal income taxes because it claims non-profit status while working to “maintain a balance between intercollegiate athletics and academics.” But statistics indicate that over the past 23 years, the NCAA’s total revenues have increased almost 8,000 percent and the NCAA’s $1.7 billion contract with CBS for rights to the NCAA Tournament is bigger than any single professional sports deal, with any network. The non-profit in this case pertains to the athletes.
Though a college education is important, the goal of college is to prepare yourself for your future profession. Many college athletes plan to join the professional ranks after college. However, some are forced to leave college early or even forgo college altogether because of their need for money. With giving student-athletes a small salary, such as the $5.40 an hour national minimum wage, more athletes would not have to miss their chance of a college experience. These people are not greedy; they are looking out for themselves. And they could use a little help.
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