Possible payment of college athletes questioned by administrators

Senior News Reporter

The National Labor Relations Board recently granted students in the athletics department at Northwestern University the right to form unions, raising questions and concerns about the impact of potentially paying student athletes Texas State.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) officials will make a decision regarding whether to permit student athletes to be paid in the coming summer, said President Denise Trauth during an April 2 Faculty Senate meeting.

Administrators are currently only permitted to fund a student athlete for the cost of attending the university through a fifth year, Trauth said. If approved by NCAA officials, universities across the country could have the possibility of funding student athletes at a higher cost than the full price of tuition and fees for the institution.

“Right now, (student athletes) are funded through a fifth year, but this would be a lifetime of education,” Trauth said.

The student athletes could potentially receive funding for attending the university and a stipend, if approved by NCAA officials, Trauth said.

“(Money) would have to come out of the athletic fee,” Trauth said.

Schools in Division I are having “tens of millions of dollars” funneled into their conferences, said Provost Eugene Bourgeois. The scale of funds from the athletic fee compared to what other universities are receiving is “apples and oranges,” he said.

Solving issues regarding the NCAA and student athletes will take years, Trauth said. NCAA rules are strict and easily broken, she said. For example, if an administrator were to buy lunch for the parents of one athlete and not another, he or she would be breaking NCAA rules.

“You can’t provide a benefit for one parent if you don’t provide it for all parents,” Trauth said.

The potential passing of the NCAA ruling could encourage more parents and guardians to attend athletes’ games, Trauth said.

“The ‘LSUs’ and ‘UTs’ will be able to say to recruits, ‘your parents will be able to fly to every game,’” Bourgeois said. “We probably won’t be able to say that to as much of a degree as LSU and UT.”

The proposal of student athletes potentially receiving paychecks and thus becoming university employees has caused some debate among Texas State administrators regarding advertising revenue.

“The thing that baffled me is why they would be called an employee of the university,” said Debra Feakes, chemistry and biochemistry senator. “In my mind, they’re not employees.”

If the NCAA were to loosen its rules with Division I programs, more funding could be spent on “student money welfare,” Trauth said. There has been a “real push” by Bowl Championship Series (BCS) conferences to spend some of the “enormous” amounts of revenue coming from TV contracts on student athletes, Trauth said.

“There will be a vote this summer, and I believe the vote will lead to a loosening of restrictions,” Trauth said. “This (vote) is life and death for the NCAA.”

Trauth said pending approval by the NCAA this summer, the issue of paying student athletes “absolutely” needs to be presented before the U.S. Supreme Court in the future.