It’s a debate almost as old as the conundrum surrounding the chicken and the egg. Since the conception of the NCAA, athletes, administrators, and members of the collegiate sport governing body have discussed whether or not college athletes should be paid. Advocates of the status quo argue that college athletes should be happy to receive the benefit of a free education, a luxury that most students do not receive. This writer will argue for the other side by claiming that it is both practical and reasonable for the NCAA to pay certain athletes.
First of all, it is important to understand that the NCAA is a business, whose main objective (like all businesses) is to maximize profit and minimize expenses. Similar to other governing bodies in sports, such as the NFL and NBA, and unlike other multi-billion dollar companies, such as Apple, the most profitable “employees” for the NCAA are not administrators or people in the front office but rather its athletes. The NCAA does not make money because of the genius of its CEO, Mark Emmert, the way Apple made money because of the decision-making of Steve Jobs. The NCAA makes money because college students, alumni, and regional fans all across the country show up to stadiums, buy official merchandise, and subscribe to expensive television packages to follow their favorite teams. The reason why the NCAA is a multi-billion dollar business is not because of its Mark Emmert or the rest of the administration. It’s because of people like Trey Burke, Johnny Manziel, and Geno Smith. These athletes, along with hundreds of other fast, strong, and skilled college athletes, are what make the NCAA what it is today. Sadly, these are the same people that the current system works against.
Many college athletes, especially those who play college football or basketball, do not come from wealthy families. These are young men from humble backgrounds who happen to be extremely talented in their chosen endeavor. They are not necessarily the most dedicated students because of the amount of time they put into their craft. For the NCAA or a university to claim that it is doing these students a favor by giving them a free education is preposterous. The reason why Division I schools spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on scholarships each year for athletes is because these athletes easily pay for themselves through the revenue they generate for their respective schools. The students who generate the revenue do not formally receive any money from their universities. Instead, these students (who, by the way, are also not allowed to have a job) are forced to rely on boosters as a source of revenue, which puts both the athlete and the school in jeopardy of violating NCAA rules. These young men are condemned and criticized by the NCAA for receiving money from an outside source, while at the same time they basically serve as slave labor to their respective universities.
The Kevin Ware situation best highlights the injustice experience by college athletes all across the country. For those of you do not know, Kevin Ware is a basketball player for the University of Louisville who suffered a gruesome lower leg injury during the NCAA Tournament. Ware instantly became a national icon and inspired his Louisville teammates to eventually go on and win the national championship. The University of Louisville capitalized on Ware’s newfound popularity by selling a shirt that discreetly advertised Ware. Louisville and Adidas eventually stopped the sale of the shirt, but similar situations are seen all the time where a school or company capitalizes on the popularity of a college athlete. Throughout bookstores across the country, you see numerous football and basketball jerseys that promote specific athletes, only without directly putting their name. For example, instead of selling a basketball jersey that has “Larkin” on the back, the University of Miami and numerous online websites sell a jersey that solely has the number 0, thus avoiding a violation of NCAA rules. EA Sports does the same thing with its annual NCAA football game by only displaying the numbers of players and their relevant characteristics. It seems utterly unfair and unreasonable that companies such as Adidas, Nike, and Electronic Arts can profit from the popularity of college athletes, while these same athletes have to outside resources in order to support themselves and their families during their college years.
In the same way that it is unreasonable for some college athletes to not be paid, it is also unreasonable to assert that all college athletes should be paid. The two sports that tend to be the most profitable for Division I schools are football and men’s basketball. These are the athletes that deserved to get paid because they generate profit for their schools and enhance the popularity of college sports and the NCAA. There are obviously exceptions to this rule. A school like Connecticut may profit from its women’s basketball team because of its popularity in the area and historic success. Therefore, each university should be allowed to decide which athletes it wants to pay. It is is also evident that within sports, not all athletes are the same. Some athletes generate more revenue than others based on their play on the field and thus the market should determine the value attached to athletes, the same way it does in professional sports.
In addition to the athletes, the NCAA and Division I schools would also receive numerous benefits in a world where college athletes are paid. The most common NCAA violation is the discovery of someone outside of the university paying an athlete or buying an athlete something. Both universities and the NCAA would benefit by removing the red tape associated with formal investigations. Furthermore, both institutions would receive legitimacy in the eyes of the outside world and in the eyes of college athletes by showing that they do not prioritize making money off of these young men.
For the sake of both equity and practicality, the NCAA should allow college athletes to be paid. In the long run, it will serve to benefit both the NCAA and Division I schools, in addition to providing much needed support for hundreds of college athletes.
Virginia Tech’s Men’s Basketball team will take on the No. 3 Duke Blue Devils.
The Hokies will travel to the home of the “Cameron Crazies” to play the Blue Devils after defeating Clemson on Saturday.
The Blue Devils are playing the Hokies after coming off a great win over then-No. 5 Miami. Erick Green, nation’s leading scorer, averaging 25 points per game will play one of his last games in a Hokie uniform.
Last time these two teams met, Duke was coming off a disappointing loss to Maryland. The Duke Blue Devils beat the Hokies 88-56 in Cassell Coliseum.
Green, however, has made several accomplishments as a Hokie. If Green can hold onto the national scoring title sources say he will be the first ACC player to win it since 1957. Green made 29 points in his last home game of his career to beat the Clemson Tigers.
Green will look to come out strong against the Blue Devils but Robert Brown and other key players to Virginia Tech will have to contribute having Senior Ryan Kelly, Duke forward, come back from a foot injury.
Kelly scored a career-high 36 points against the Miami Hurricanes. Duke, who is 25-4 will come off one of their greatest wins this season as the Virginia Tech Hokies make the last push to make the ACC tournament.