Should Student-Athletes Be Paid?

With the NFL Draft coming up, it seems that this year more than ever there has been news of agents giving benefits, students selling equipment, and other money related NCAA violations. But why are these violations becoming so common?

The answer is that most college students need money and being a student-athlete, especially at a Division 1 level, the opportunity for a part time job is not there. Some D1 schools prohibit their athletes to get a job, while others simply do not give the students enough free time to hold a job. Shouldn’t these students who put more than their fair share of college life on the field, on the court or in the weight room be compensated for their efforts or have some money to spend on food or a movie?

The NCAA is making tons of revenue off of their student-athletes through bowl games, marketing, and television deals year after year; and yet the student athlete sees very little of it. For those of you who argue that student-athletes are getting paid through scholarships and travel expenses, consider this: According to, Alabama football made $123,769,841 in total revenue in 2008. The school spent a total of $12,405,360 in scholarships and travel cost—a mere 10% of the total revenue.

Still think it’s a fair deal?

Ok how about this. That same year, Alabama spent $13,118,559 on coaches’ contracts, more than the student expenses combined. A quote from the Wall Street Journal sums it up best in an article titled “The Real March Madness.” It says, “Jim Calhoun, head coach of the University of Connecticut men’s basketball team, recently made headlines when he launched into a tirade at a blogger who questioned his $1.6 million annual compensation. Those high salaries are financed from the talents of unpaid student-athletes. (Talk about income inequality.) So not only are the young being exploited, but the exploitation is being committed by their adult mentors.”

It comes as no surprise that athletes such as LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and other NBA stars skipped over the college experience all together in order to sign multi-million dollar contracts. Star football players overlook their senior or even junior years in order to enter the draft and make money for themselves and families. Had these student-athletes been able to make some money in college, even significantly less money than in the pros but something to get by on, the four years might have been completed, a degree earned and a brighter future possible after sports.

For me, it only makes sense that the NCAA spread the wealth, especially to those athletes that are bringing in the dough.