Paying College Athletes


Recently, students in our Sport Finance course were asked to read the following articles:

and then answer the question: “At what expense, to smaller schools and non-revenue sports, should college athletes be paid?”

Here are a few of the students’ responses.

By: Jonathon Golich

In all honesty, I agree completely with one line in the New Yorker article where the writer simply said that paying college athletes will take away from the value of sport to education.  Most student athletes are on campus on full ride scholarships that pay for their entire college degree.  That in itself, with the prospect of either going pro and making big money, or being better able to find a career after their collegiate athletic career is more than enough compensation if you ask me.  While some college athletic departments and the NCAA itself have gigantic surpluses, I feel that these athletes should be entitled to no more than full tuition costs and a small stipend to help with food and living expenses.

One other main argument in all of this becomes an example of a question that could come up similar to this…Does Derrick Henry, the Heisman Trophy winning running back from the National Champion Alabama Crimson Tide deserve to be paid more than Drake Johnson, the 2nd string running back on the Michigan Wolverines football team?  My point is, it would be too tough to really break it all down and the system they have in place has worked for so long.  Keep it rolling.


By: Emma Chandler

I can understand giving an athlete a scholarship for his/her time as a student athlete. I can see compensation for food and housing if and only if they live on campus. Insurance for athletes seems like one of the more logical compensations though. However, paying college athletes any more than that just doesn’t seem worth it. Large schools could afford to put part of what these athletes make for them back to the athletes but this takes away the focus from the educational part of the college experience. A college education is important to many of these athletes especially if they do not end up going pro. If they get paid on top of that they will basically be professional athletes who get free college on top of a salary and bonuses. This makes their education a non-priority in many cases and then, like the New Yorker article says, the integrity of the game is lost. I watch college sports because I’m loyal to my school and it does not feel like my team is good because it was the highest bidder.

This bidding process would make it almost impossible for smaller schools to come up with a good team even if they could afford to pay their athletes in the first place. Then there really is no point in having sports at the school. Especially if there isn’t a budget for it. I am confused about whether or not non-revenue sports athletes are included in this being paid process outside of scholarships.If they are getting paid for the incensing of their likeness or for the broadcasting of their games/events then it would not make sense for schools to continue these sports. If they cost more than they are worth, and the money going to them is being taken away by football and basketball players who want monetary compensation, then they are really a burden to the budget. This would be a shame for those athletes. The cost of paying greedy college athletes is not worth the price of cutting sports programs in other departments or schools.


By: Mike Kaiser

Being a former college athlete and now a college football coach, I have had many conversations with people about this issue, including some of our athletes here at Wayne State. I will begin by saying that I am very much against paying college athletes because once it starts, it will only be a matter of time before it completely ruins college sports. Once money becomes part of our athletes decision making process, they will start making life choices based off of financial reasons. This will not only hurt the athlete, but the sport as a whole. The competition level will become severely weakened because the smaller schools who have less money then the larger division 1 programs, will not be able to compete in spending and thus they will not be able to attract the same level of talent.

In the article, I agree with Judge Jay Bybee when he is quoted saying; “The difference between offering student-athletes education-related compensation and offering them cash sums untethered to educational expenses is not minor. Once that line is crossed (paying athletes), we see no basis for returning to a rule of amateurism and defined stopping point.” If players start getting paid, it will eventually turn into a “wild west show” and become all about how much schools can pay their athletes rather than about providing a great experience for the athletes.

On several different occasions I have read or herd people refer to the idea that athletes have a right to compete for financial compensation in several different economic markets. As a coach, this drives me absolutely insane, playing college sports is not a right it’s a privilege. It’s a privilege that many people in this world will never have and athletes have a very small window in their lives to be able to play college sports. People have lost sight of the what college sports are all about. For many college football players, it is a way out of poverty and a means to a better life, and the ability to earn a degree without having to pay for it. We are suppose to help our athletes form life long relationships while they develop as person both socially and spiritually. The second we start putting money in their pockets, we can completely forget about our country having any morals and values because we would be telling our young people that money is what is most important; more then hard work, dedication, accountability, teamwork and being a good person.


By: Andrew Kreichelt

As a former college athlete, I find this topic very interesting.  The amount of money schools make off their athletes at the DI and DII levels is staggering.  From an athletes standpoint is makes sense why they would want a chunk of that change, because they are the ones working hard and bringing in the crowds.  The thing is though, most of these athletes are already being paid in the form of scholarships or other perks.  Paying athletes beyond that I think would cause two main problems.

First, I think that compensating athletes beyond scholarships will start to blur the line of what college is truly about, getting an education.  College is a place for people to further their education and better prepare themselves for life.  By paying athletes, you start to get away from what college is truly about.  Star athletes will start to look at college for the money they can get instead of the educational value it would bring.

Second, the money that would be used to pay athletes would take away from what the school has to develop their campus.  A lot of the money earned but sports programs probably stays within the athletic department but some of that money most likely goes to campus development of facilities and buildings.  If you start to take away some of the money designated to these causes, than schools have less money to update and build new facilities.  These multi million dollar stadiums that a lot of schools have now do not pay for themselves and neither do all the practice facilities that every sport uses.  Along with this, some of the money that probably goes towards non-revenue sports would be gone and make it more difficult to maintain those sports.  When you look at smaller schools, this becomes even more of an issue because they do not make nearly as much as larger schools and do not have the flexibility in their budget to offset some of the costs that would be associated with paying athletes.

So the cost of paying athletes hurts the athletes more than it hurts the schools in my opinion.  It would take away the reasons people go to school in the first place to get an education and would cause budgeting nightmares for all schools, especially small ones, that would affect what schools can offer their students and athletes.


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