The National Collegiate Athletic Association is a multi-billion dollar industry yet student-athletes get no stipend or financial support beyond scholarships. Student-athletes put in too many work hours to receive zero compensation from the NCAA.
Collegiate level sports scholarships offer a means for many budding athletes to pursue a higher education. However, in reality, most athletes dream about going professional, not staring into a microscope.
Students at Texas State pay $20 per semester credit hour as part of their athletic fee. This means that revenue earned from ticket sales, apparel, television rights and other athletic fees may be paying for those microscopes, coaches and other expenses around campus.
The NCAA states on its website, “a college education is the most rewarding benefit of the student-athlete experience.”
Full scholarships cover tuition fees, room, board and course-related books. However, star athletes and top recruits bring in massive amounts of revenue for institutions with apparel and ticket sales. In an open market, top recruits would be worth millions of dollars to participating institutions.
The term “student-athlete” was invented by Walter Byers, the first executive director of the NCAA. The term was created to escape possible lawsuits from former athletes trying to receive workers’ compensation from injury related play, according to the Washington Post.
The NCAA states in its website that a student-athlete is a, “participant in an organized competitive sport sponsored by the educational institution in which he or she is enrolled. Student athletes must typically balance the roles of being a full-time student and a full-time athlete.”
The United States is the only country in the world which sponsors collegiate level athletics at the level the NCAA does. In the U.S. there exists a literal contract for labor on a field or court and in return full scholarship athletes receive payment in the form of a “free” education.
This indentured servitude of collegiate athletes by the NCAA interferes upon its priority, the student-athletes. Being a collegiate athlete impacts a student’s ability to perform in the classroom, with early morning workouts, class, team meetings, practice, tutoring, homework and general student life being the common schedule of student-athletes.
Players go to school to stay eligible, ultimately to win games and fulfill their end of the contract. In 2010, the NCAA signed a 14-year, $10.8 billion contract for television rights with CBS and Turner Broadcasting. In 2016, top recruit Harry Giles received no money for signing with Duke or averaging 23 points a game in 2015.
For a business largely built on the backs of rising athletes, the cards are heavily stacked against them. How can coaches, institutions or administrators take advantage of the system while their athletes receive no reward aside from scholarships?
Between , apparel deals and television rights, college sports are big business. Texas A&M, topped Business Insider’s list of schools that make the most money from sports in 2016 with $192.6 million in revenue.
The NCAA gets away with it through “amateurism,” defined as being “crucial to preserving an academic environment in which acquiring a quality education is the first priority. In the collegiate model of sports, the young men and women competing on the field or court are students first, athletes second.”
Athletes re-affirm their amateur status every year prior to play. In short, amateurism requirements do not allow:
- Contracts with professional teams
- Salary for participating in athletics
- Prize money above actual and necessary expenses
- Play with professionals
- Tryouts, practice or competition with a professional team
- Benefits from an agent or prospective agent
- Agreement to be represented by an agent
- Delayed initial full-time collegiate enrollment to participate in organized sports competition
“Since 2006, the last year players could enter the NBA draft out of high school, only three U.S. born players from basketball and football combined, have been drafted by professional teams without first playing in college,” stated documentary “Schooled: The Price of College Sports.” The NCAA has become a farm house for athletes wanting to go to the professional level.
If amateurism was adopted universally across institutions, anyone in pursuit of an undergraduate degree cannot get paid for work on the side, because we are all amateurs at a profession. It would mean student government representatives such as the president and vice president would not be budgeted $11,556 and $8,148 annually, based on their amateur status as politicians.
I personally define amateurism as being able to throw a decent spiral in my back yard. However when a coach starts to look at me and I go on recruiting trips, my status is elevated above other athletes by recruiting stars.
Posters of Bobcat Tyler Jones were in dining halls and locations across campus last semester, how can he, or any other member of the team, be labeled as an amateur?
Sure, some athletes go on to reap contracts and benefits beyond belief. However, adding the probability of college athlete to professional from football, men and women’s basketball, baseball, men’s ice hockey, and men’s soccer, the percentage of going pro is still under 22 percent. What happens to athletes who get injured in college and can no longer pursue a professional sports career?
Adding a capped stipend and progressive health care coverage not only protects the amateur assets the NCAA is rightfully liable for, but also helps student-athletes in areas where the “full ride” does not cover such as meal plans and school supplies.
Additionally, if we start to study problems associated with sports like football and the concussion crisis, we might be able to begin to solve or come up with technology and preventative measures before those same issues go pro. The only alternative is for us is to walk away from the games as losers.