Should College Athletes be Paid?

One of the hottest debates in the NCAA revolves around college athletes and whether they should be compensated or not. There are many strong arguments supporting both sides, but I think the topic needs to be refined more. Rather than discussing the merits of paying college athletes, the topic should be focused on how we should pay college athletes. For many, scholarships for top tier athletes is considered compensation enough. I mean, free tuition at a big time university is a pretty great thing. However, others would still argue that athletes deserve more for their hard work, contributions to the university, and the additional revenue that they bring in.

I attended a speech by David Brandon, the athletic director of the University of Michigan, that revolved around college sports as a business. Of course, the topic of paying college athletes came up via a question from the audience. Brandon was in support of giving athletes a stipend, citing that many are from out of state, and it is expensive to fly home to see relatives over holidays. However, he also addressed the point that the only two profitable sports at the University of Michigan are football (no surprise there) and men’s basketball, with men’s hockey fluctuating around break even year-to-year. So with a vast majority of programs actually losing money, how can we afford to pay college athletes? Check out more of what Dave Brandon has to say on the topic: Interview with Brandon.
Dave Brandon
Giving athletes a portion of ticket sales is not the way to go. Many sports even have free admission, so that idea fails already. Additionally, by raising ticket prices, there is the risk of less people buying tickets and lower fan support – which is the exact opposite of what we are trying to accomplish. I propose that athletes should receive a portion of jersey sales and other related memorabilia. In doing so, the athletes whom generate the most revenue for the university will be rewarded financially. Sure this plan would only benefit star athletes, but as mentioned earlier, only two programs at the university are profitable to begin with. And I know for a fact my roommate would go out and buy a Spike Albrecht jersey so it’s not just the Trey Burke’s of the world who would benefit from such a plan.
Spike Trigga
In conclusion, I see many instances in which college athletes should be paid. However, I think the amount of money they receive should be directly proportional to the revenue they bring in to the university. I feel that should be measured from an individual basis, rather than the team as a whole. It is important to consider all the contributions student-athletes make for a university while keeping in perspective the finances of individual sports programs at the university. Although he is a controversial figure in the media right now, here are some thoughts in support of paying college athletes from one of the greatest running backs of all time Adrian Peterson. I hope you enjoyed reading my post and feel free to comment!
-Paul Irwin


3 thoughts on “Should College Athletes be Paid?

  1. Pingback: Examining the College Football Playoff | THE BIG HOUSE OF IDEAS

  2. At the end of the day, we can’t alter what interests people and what they’re willing to spend their own hard earned money on. Is it fair that a teacher and a lawyer who work equally as hard don’t make the same amount of money? No, but life is not fair. Just because not as many people want to watch the tennis team as those who want to watch and spend their money on the football team is not a legitimate excuse for why those athletes are not entitled to compensation considering the amount of money they bring into the university. I believe the money that these athletes bring into their universities needs to be considered and we should be more sensitive to this rather than quick to reject their cut of the fortunes they create.


  3. Hey Paul,

    Considering the conversation we had regarding this topic in our lecture the other day I find your idea to be one of the more innovative ones. Jersey sales are an interesting output as they are relevant to the athlete’s individual performance; hence the compensation is proportionate. However I’d like to bring up two other points. First let’s assume that the jersey sale scenario went through. In 5 years when Jabril Peppers leaves Michigan to the NFL (hopefully) people might still want to buy his jersey. So if they do, who does the money go to. It’s almost like the same thing as the Ed O’Bannon scenario. The second is that this might discourage athletes of other sports. Yes you might a jersey of one of the paid sports — (football, basketball, hockey) but would you buy a Michigan soccer star’s jersey. If this player gets no compensation what’s the point of him coming to the university in the first place. Moreoever when he is a kid his dad will tell him: “don’t play soccer or else you can’t go to college.”

    Just my two cents.

    Thanks for the article and the links though. Really informative!


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