Reasons Why College Athletes Should Not Be Getting Paid

As we begin 2014, the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) football program faces major changes. Some of the possible changes are not necessary overhauls, not the modernizing of an outdated system, but merely based off of the greedy desires of a group of otherwise talented young men. One of these changes, the demise of the Bowl Championship Series (BCS), has garnered widespread approval. The other potential change, however, has become a source of controversy. College athletes are now fighting to be rewarded, beyond the customary fully paid tuitions and fees, for their efforts.

However, there are several reasons why this is a ridiculous, selfish plea; several colleges and universities provide full scholarships for the excruciating tuitions and fees to attend such schools, as well as top-notch educations and a chance to showcase their talents to the ultimate destination, the National Football League. It is important that one recognizes the ways in which college athletes receiving salaries is not only excessive, but could also erode the genuineness and quality of college athletics, as well as resulting in colleges more focused on athletics as opposed to academics.

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Despite how those advocating for college athlete salaries might portray said athletes as subject to injustice, they are far from being disadvantaged; colleges and universities provide several benefits to student-athletes. Many of these athletes, especially at larger schools, are awarded hefty scholarships, which cover the cost of tuition and fees to attend the university; not to mention the “special admittance” policy they are granted, which is when schools and coaches “bend school requirements, including academic standards, for student athletes” (“Sports”).

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The scholarships also provide an opportunity for these (largely unqualified) athletes to receive a college degree, a sought after achievement which opens doors to financially rewarding jobs in the future, that many students who hold the necessary qualifications could never afford. Not to mention the broadcasting of the games that opens the doors for athletes to showcase themselves to professional leagues, where they would be paid down the road for their efforts. According to Rick Burton, a sports management professor at Syracuse University in Syracuse, NY, the monetary value of such “benefits during four years of college might exceed $250,000?” (Zissou). The amount of money saved through these scholarships is significantly higher than the amount that an average college student would make working. Yet these “average” students who actually pay the crippling tuition and fees to attend college still manage to live off of the money they have left. The athletes are simply spoiled, expecting more and more compensation for an activity that they chose to participate in, and not creating a budget for the money they have like regular students do. With proper money management skills, student-athletes would find that they have more than enough money to live off of. One example of a student-athlete spending money properly can be seen at Tulsa University, where Cody Wilson, a football player, “saved enough money over a year-and-a-half for an engagement ring and a honeymoon to St. Lucia” (Hoover).

The portrayal of college athletes as a body of people subject to injustice is absolutely absurd when one takes into account the colossal scholarships granted as well as the myriad of great opportunities presented in exchange for them to merely play a sport that they enjoy.

Another, more fluid, problem that would come with paying college athletes is the possible destruction of the “sportsmanship, pageantry, rivalries, and enthusiasm of the college game (energized by a uniquely loyal fan base of students and alumni)” (Ramey), or simply, the destruction of the amateurism of college athletics. The NCAA’s constitution reads that its purpose “is to ‘maintain intercollegiate athletics as an integral part of the educational program and the athlete as an integral part of the study body and, by so doing, retain a clear line of demarcation between intercollegiate athletics and professional sports”” (“College and High School Sports”). The definition of “professional”, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is when one is “paid to participate in a sport or activity”. The NCAA constitution clearly states that the objective of the association is to maintain sports programs as an extra aspect of attending college or university. Paying college athletes would essentially be destroying the foundation of the NCAA, along with the beloved ‘innocence’ of amateur collegiate athletics.

The primary purpose of college is to receive an education, but with rising tuitions that can reach over $45,000 per year, it can be difficult for many students and their families to finance. If athletes representing these universities were to be rewarded a salary, it would pave the way for sports-focused schools to charge even more money for tuition and spend less money on the academic side of the school. One example of this occurring is at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, LA, a prominent member of the Division 1 Southeastern Conference, where “state budget cuts have forced LSU to trim academic spending even while the profit-making athletic program raises salaries for coaches and spends millions to expand its stadium and gold-plate training facilities” (Jost). This is a warped system; colleges and universities’ number one priority should always be providing an education to those who pay incredible amounts of money simply to attend. Sports and other extracurricular activities, while extremely important, simply must take the back seat in terms of the financial priorities of these higher education facilities. Handing young men who choose to participate in college football salaries is only placing even more emphasis on athletics over academics, and adding to “the skewed financial priorities between academics and athletics at many college and university campuses” (Jost).

Proponents of salaries for college athletes will skew information to portray them as victims of an injustice-ridden association. Cases like O’Bannon vs. N.C.A.A. feature ex-college athletes who claim to be concerned about “how much money those games generated and how little of it went to the players” (Bishop) fighting for players’ “rights”. There are several things wrong with this statement. Firstly, collegiate athletes are choosing to participate in these activities, there is no one forcing them to partake in them. Secondly, college athletics are amateur sports, also known as sports whose players do not receive compensation, because they are not yet professionals. Other college athletes, such as University of Colorado linebacker Derrick Webb, claim that salaries are necessary because “when it’s the end of the day and you’re waiting for your next meal, you’ve got to do something’” (Henderson). Players who cannot afford to buy food should consider getting jobs and working for money, just like everyone else does. Amateur endeavors are not a place to make a living. The argument to pay college players is warped and illogical, and by utilizing simple logic, one can see the fallacies behind the reasoning.

College football is a sport like no other; overflowing with intense pride, rivalries, traditions, and several other aspects that are irreplaceable and could never be replicated at a professional level. That being said, it is important to keep college football just as it is. Paying college athletes is preposterous, and would only result in the tarnishing of the essence of collegiate athletics and the lessening of emphasis, particularly financial, on academics. College sports are one of the greatest aspects of college in the United States, and it should be kept that way.

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Reasons Why College Athletes Should Not Be Getting Paid. (2022, Apr 19). Retrieved from

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