Compensating College Athletes Essay, Research Paper
In today s world of big-time college athletics there are huge amounts of revenue being brought into the universities by athletes. However, some of the athletes that make the money for their schools can t even afford to buy the team sweatshirt that they are making popular. Thus, it is difficult for the athletes to resist the temptation of accepting compensation for their performances. Not surprisingly, the media is filled with stories of the NCAA scandals and allegations surrounding star athletes receiving money and gifts from agents, advertisers, coaches, and even colleges. I believe that NCAA college athletes should be compensated because of the large amounts of revenue they generate for their schools. If they were compensated, it could deter athletes from entering the draft before graduation. Since the NCAA prohibits athletes from having a job during the school year, these players need some type of income.
First, the amount of money generated by college athletics is staggering. For example, the Miami Hurricanes football team raised $517 million for their school in a five-year period of time (Wolff, “Broken” 25). Similarly, the Washington Huskies football program earns $1.4 million in television revenue yearly (Looney 43). Dick DeVenzio, in his book, Rip-Off U., supposes that if each member of a premier NCAA basketball program were to receive just half of the gate receipts from one game – not any other revenue but the gate receipts – the player would receive $120 thousand (28).
Since colleges and universities make a fortune from their athletics, it is only right that the athletes share this revenue. It is like someone working a steady job and turning the paycheck back to his employer. Being an NCAA Division I football or basketball player is comparable to having a nine-to-five job, plus being a full time student. Raul Bey, a Las Vegas businessman, wanted to start a clothing line, and he wanted the Florida State Seminole football players to wear and endorse his merchandise. Of course, it is against NCAA sanctions and regulations to accept gifts with eligibility remaining. Bey broke these sanctions by giving some of the Seminole football players free airplane tickets, hotel accomodations, and clothing to endorse his products (Steptoe and Swift 20). So, even though a school may earn millions of dollars a year from their athletic teams, the athletes cannot capitalize on the use of their names. Again, Dick DeVenzio, in Rip-Off U., says,
we live in a capitalistic society. We believe, as a nation, that people should benefit from the fruits of their labors. There is nothing so dramatically different about college sports or college athletes that should cause this basic national belief to be suspended. Big time college athletes should get some of that money. (23)
Mel Levine, a sports agent from Miami, also believes that, “College football players, bred and nutured in the principles of capitalism and the spirit of equality for all, want their piece of the euphemistic pie.” (118).
Another reason that NCAA college athletes should be compensated is because it may deter them from entering the draft before their eligibility is up. Some of today s college athletes are forced to enter the draft early because, even though they are on full-scholarship, their families still can t afford spending money. For example, former Miami Hurricanes defensive back, Charles Pharms, said that, “A Hurricane swearshirt is $30 or $40. I helped make that shirt popular, but I can t even afford it.” (Wolff, “Honest”). In fact, Senator J. Bennett Johnston of Louisiana is so against college athletes leaving for the big money, that he is considering legislation to prevent it (Shropshire 81). One athlete who decided to become an instant millionare, Kevin Garnett, was just out of high school when he skipped college, entered the NBA draft, and signed his name to an eight-digit contract. Many people felt that if Garnett had gone to college and played for even two years, he would have been a much more mature person as well as a more developed basketball player. However, Garnett opted to jump into the NBA and earn his millions. Like Garnett, many college football players also need money, thus, they enter the professional draft before they should. Some people like, Dr. Clarence Shields and Dr. Donald Stevenson, sports medicine specialists, ” indicate that physical growth required for professional football may not be achieved until about the age of twenty-two, approximately when the average college student graduates.” (Shropshire 83). Therefore, not only is it beneficial for an athlete to complete his education, but it is also good for his game.
Furthermore, athletes should be compensated for their performances because it is against NCAA sanctions for a player to hold a job during the school year, and many student athletes have no way to get spending money. Imagine a poor kid from New York City who is recruited to play basketball for UCLA; sure, his full-scholarship is paying for his schooling, but that benefit does not consider anything extra. Perhaps he would like to go to home for the holidays or take a girl on a date. Kenneth L. Shropshire, author of Agents of Opportunity, recommends that, ” student athletes be eligible for a student life stipend. This stipend would provide an additional sum with every athletic scholarship to cover such activities as trips home or social activities.” (74). Also, Greg Ostertag, former center for the Kansas Jayhawks basketball team, is a prime example of why a student athlete either needs to be able to hold a job, or receive some form of compensation. He was on a full athletic scholarship, but he had a wife and child who needed financial support. Since Ostertag couldn t remain eligible, he had no choice but to accept any extra money where he could; he was forced to go on welfare (Half-Time Report).
College sports means big money. Revenue is generated by ticket sales, sale of team merchandise, endorsements, bowl games, and television. Everyone is benefiting from these huge sums of money, everyone but the athletes. Former Miami Hurricanes tight end, Randy Bethel, commented, “They want us to be like regular students, but regular students don t generate revenue like we do. I don t remember the last time 70,000 people packed into the Orange Bowl to watch a chemistry experiment.” (Wolff, “Honest”). It s about time college athletes are monetarily appreciated for their performances. I think that NCAA college athletes should be compensated for their performances because they bring in large amounts of money for their schools. If they were compensated, it could deter them from entering the draft before graduating. Since NCAA sanctions prevent college athletes from holding jobs during the school year, these players need some type of income.
DeVenzio, Dick. Rip-Off U. Charlotte: The Pool Court Press, 1986.
Half Time Report. ESPN-TV. Jan. 1995.
Levine, Mel. “Don t Just Blame the Agents.” Sport Nov. 1994: 118.
Looney, Douglas S. “Big Man On Campus.” Sports Illustrated 23 May 1994: 41-43.
Shropshire, Kenneth L. Agents of Opportunity. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1990.
Steptoe, Sonja, and E.M. Swift. “Anatomy of a Scandal.” Sports Illustrated 18 May 1994: 18-28.
Wolff, Alexander. “An Honest Wage.” Sports Illustrated 30 May 1994: 98.
— “Broken Beyond Repair.” Sports Illustrated 12 June 1995: 20-26.