Paying College Athletes

If you were to turn on your T.V on a Saturday afternoon you would more than likely see a College Football game. You would see tradition, school spirit, and two teams trying to beat the crap out of each other, but at what price is this all happening? The age-old debate is rather or not student athletes should be paid. Colleges generate millions if not billions of dollars annually because of their sports programs, but what about those programs that don’t make the institution money? For instance, many women’s sports do not contribute to the annual earnings compared to men’s basketball or football. The University of Michigan is one of the top revenue generating colleges in the country. So, who should be getting paid?

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Many people want to blame the NCAA for not taking a side, but in fact the NCAA is really just an organization comprised of all the colleges. If the NCAA were to start paying college athletes how would it be handled? If they gave them a salary how much would it be? Who would be getting paid? Where is the money coming from? These issues are at the hindsight of the debate. The annual tuition for a student is between $25,000 and $55,000, depending on if you live in state or out of state. Many student athletes get their tuition paid for, does that mean they get to work less? In most cases not, they are working more then the regular student. Student athletes go through a rigorous schedule, between going to class, workouts and practices. Coming up with a fair way of paying athletes is a task I will leave to the professionals.

I do not agree with giving student athletes a salary, but I do believe they should receive something because of how they are marketed by the university and the universities are the ones making money off of them.  Devin Gardner alone generates $5.5 million to the university per year and last year he generated $8 million in media exposure in just one month. Did he see any of the money? Most likely not. Out of the 50 states in the United States, 26 of them have a football coach as the states highest paid employee. These coaches make millions of dollars annually to teach and train athletes and the athletes themselves, as some say, make nothing. Personally, I think that coaches get paid too much. I think the money that is going into a coach’s salary could be distributed different throughout the university. Just like in The Price, by Niccolo Machiavelli, would a coach rather be feared by his players and fans or loved by them. I think many coaches believe they have to be liked by everyone, but really being feared doesn’t mean your hated, it means you posses a strong passion for winning.

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In closing athletes should not be paid for their athletic performance. They should be compensated for the profit they help the school bring in. If we can live in a world were academics can coexist with athletics and everyone can be treated fairly, I truly feel we will have an ideal society.


3 thoughts on “Paying College Athletes

  1. I too agree athletes should not receive a salary for participating in a sport at a university, however they do deserve compensation. But do they not already receive compensation? At Michigan, most receive a partial, if not full scholarship to attend this prestigious university. That in and of itself could amount to upwards of $160,000 in compensation for an out-of-state student. Other than tuition, athletes receive their books for little to no cost, free tutoring, and a large amount of official university apparel. It is important to keep in mind that these athletes are students, just like the majority of the population here at Michigan and should not be treated any differently than non-athletes. By directly paying athletes, collegiate sports would just become another league and not college anymore. Although Michigan holds athletes to obtain high academic standards, many other schools dramatically lower their academic standards for athletes. This takes away from the collegiate aspect of sport and directly contradicts the purpose of higher education, which is to obtain a useful college degree. I believe athletics are extremely important in American collegiate culture and could not imagine a world without sports, however most athletes do get compensation from their contribution to their university and directly paying college athletes would take away from the true purpose of college.


  2. Scotty,

    You make a compelling argument regarding the payment of college athletes. It is true that Devin Gardner’s generates millions of dollars for the University. However, an athlete like Devin decided to attend college to gain an education. The University of Michigan ultimately gives athletes the opportunity to ever generate profit for themselves. Sure Devin could have been successful at a different university, but he knew that by attending the University of Michigan he would create a large market for himself. By enrolling in this prestigious athletic universities, athletes understand the potential benefits after college and should not need to be compensated while in college. In addition, as you state in your blog, athletes are compensated in the form of scholarships. Full scholarship athletes pay zero dollars to attend this prestigious University, while out of state students pay roughly 60,000.

    The compensation of athletes would also create another debate regarding the equality of pay. Both male and female athletes put in countless hours of hard work and dedication. If the compensation is not a salary is just based on the revenue each team and athlete brings to the University, it would be completely unfair. And, if the decision is to pay all athletes equally, the University would simply be losing an extreme amount of money that the university would not be able to use as resources to further better themselves.

    College is a learning experience that students work diligently throughout their life in order to receive such a prestigious education. When college athletes decide to attend college, they are student-athletes. Student-athletes should mean student first, athlete second. I understand that this was a hard concept in high school, nevertheless in college athletics, but college athletes should be receiving an education. By paying athletes, the education that they are receiving is even further distanced.


  3. In theory, I agree with your main point that athletes should not be paid to play, but should be compensated for the profit they bring to the University. It seems like the most fair resolution. However, in reality, I think this is impossible and not fair. I think you have to pay all of the members of a team or you can’t pay anyone at all. If you only paid the quarterback and a couple other players, that would have significant negative effects on the dynamic of the team and college football as a whole. Would the other players want to perform for their leader when he is the one being rewarded? Would it be fair to the offensive linemen who keep the quarterback upright and allow for him to perform better or to the defender who makes him better by challenging him everyday in practice. The answer to these questions is no. Also, that player who is getting compensated could become less motivated to work and care less about the team and without the superstars playing for school pride and for the team, college sports would not be what they are today. The bottom line is that football or basketball are ultimate team sports in which every player can make an impact on the success of a team or the outcome of a came that isn’t always so obvious. While it is true that some athletes definitely make more money for schools than others, it is still unfair to award certain individuals rather than the entire team.

    -Aaron Simon


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