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The 2OT: Is it time to start paying student athletes?

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With the recent scandals in college basketball, is it time to re-evaluate how student athletes are compensated.

NCAA Basketball: Texas Tech at West Virginia Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

The thought

Once again, College athletics finds itself in the middle of another scandal. Assuming you don’t live under a rock, you’ve probably heard about the recruiting scandal that rocked college basketball to its core. It cost former future hall of fame coach Rick Pitino his job at Louisville and now that the FBI is involved, other coaches will probably face the same fate as more details are brought to light.

This scandal is reminiscent of the Pony Express scandal back in the 80s that resulted in the infamous death penalty for SMUs football program, a penalty that the program still hasn’t recovered from. SMU of course was accused of paying athletes and recruits under the table to play football, an offense that nearly every division one school was guilty of (SMU got the hammer essentially because Dallas, TX was also the location of the SWC headquarters and therefore SMU was easier to investigate in the pre internet days).

Back then the motivation for cheating was purely about winning. This time it was about financial gain. Coaches were being paid under the table by player agencies to steer top rated recruits into their businesses and these “one and done” players were “recruited” using any means necessary. Up to and including cash and entertainment.

These scandals have brought up three specific ideas that sports fans have been debating for years.

1. How incompetent is the NCAA. (We’re still waiting for the hammer to come down on Baylor)

2. The NBA really needs to do something about it’s one and done policy (either create a real minor league like Major League Baseball, or require players to spend at least three years in college like the NFL)

And lastly

Is it time for the NCAA to allow players to be paid to play?

The take

The reason this is coming up is because while what has been going on in college basketball is slimy to say the least, the idea of how much money the business of college athletics makes on the work of said athletes seems criminal in a lot of ways.

One of the biggest arguments against paying student athletes is that they are paid in the form of receiving a free education. An education that can cost upwards of a $100,000 nonetheless and I can’t say I disagree with that. Especially in the age where student loan debt has become crippling to more students than ever before, I believe that a free education is more than fair compensation for the athletes work.

NCAA Basketball: Louisville at Purdue Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Where I am inclined to believe that a change needs to be made is how strict the NCAA is when it comes to athletes making money from outside sources.

In the days leading up to the Texas Tech-Kansas game, I saw Keenan Evan’s face on ESPN at least once every commercial break and while ESPN clearly is profiting from Evan’s image, Keenan himself will never see a dime of ad revenue. If he had, the the NCAA would have swooped in to pass out penalties like Oprah (You get a suspension! You get a suspension!).

Here’s the thing, the amount of restrictions placed on student athletes is unreal. For example, not only can a student athlete not accept so much as a meal from their coach, they are also forbidden from working a side job that earns more than $2,000 a year. To put that into perspective, my $8 an hour job at the university’s office of annual giving that I worked at in college earned me a little over 10,000 dollars a year and therefore would have disqualified me from competing in intercollegiate athletics. Considering that job barely sustained my diet of dry Ramen Noodles and generic Mac and Cheese, to force any student to live on less than $2,000 a year could almost be considered abuse. Especially when you consider the large amount of athletes who come from poor families and receive next to no financial aid from home and it was only just recently that the NCAA allowed university athletics programs to provide free meals to its students.

So here’s how athletes should be compensated.

  1. All living expenses should be covered whether an athlete is on scholarship or not and thanks to a recent rule change, that is allowed
  2. While the universities should not be expected to provide more than the general scholarships, athletes should be free to earn income on their own.
  3. No one should be allowed to use the athletes name and likeness without compensating that particular athlete.
  4. Athletes should have access to an “advisor” to help them make decisions on the business side of things.

It seems like common sense. Most of us were able to work and make money while in school, there is no reason why athletes should be held on such a tight leash. Especially when the rest of the world is profiting from their hard work.

It won’t solve all of the problems, but maybe if the NCAA isn’t so busy trying to catch kids selling autographs then they would have the “resources” to focus on bigger issues, like Baylor and cheating basketball coaches for example. Just a thought.

What’s your take?

Let us know in the comments how you feel student athletes should be compensated

Poll

Should student athletes be better compesated?

This poll is closed

  • 83%
    Yes
    (36 votes)
  • 16%
    No
    (7 votes)
43 votes total Vote Now