It is time for university officials to start paying student athletes.
Recent scandals have given the National Collegiate Athletic Association and university officials difficulty when handling the matter of collegiate players receiving a share of team merchandise sales.
The NCAA made $871.6 million in 2011-2012, the last academic year audited numbers were made available to the public. According to current projections made by ESPN and CBS Sports, the NCAA will be a billion-dollar entity by the end of 2013, which is an enormous amount of revenue for an institution whose website states it is a non-profit organization.
When you examine the work student athletes put in with lifting, meetings, practices, games and study hall hours, all on top of maintaining a certain GPA to stay eligible to play, the case for compensation becomes clear.
Since most collegiate athletes are only allowed to earn up to $2,000 an academic year from an outside job due to an NCAA rule, improper benefits such as gifts become tempting for some players. Some people do not consider many student athletes come from underprivileged families and are using their athletic abilities to make a better life for themselves and their loved ones.
Every season Texas State and the NCAA make millions of dollars from selling athletic products such as jerseys with certain players’ numbers on them—and even then, the athletes do not make any money from the sales. Fans do not buy these jerseys because they represent Texas State alone, but because they represent their favorite players on the team. With large portions of merchandise and ticket sales solely purchased because of the players on the field and not the team brand itself, players should be entitled to a part of the profit universities make from them.
Many people may argue student athletes are already rewarded with full-ride scholarships and therefore should not be paid extra for their work on the field. However, full-ride scholarships are awarded to athletes on a year-by-year basis, one academic year at a time, and not for all four years as is commonly assumed. Scholarships can be renewed or suspended at the end of each season depending on performance and injury. Coaches have the right to take away scholarships at the end of the year due to poor performance or injuries suffered while playing the sport.
Additionally, there are athletes who do not have scholarships. Some have to try out as walk-ons in the hopes of making the team and may have to play while still abiding by the same NCAA rules as players with scholarships.
The more money the NCAA makes and the more institutions continue to sign nine-figure contracts with TV networks and sponsors, the longer the debate of paying collegiate athletes will continue. Student athletes sacrifice their bodies and time to play college sports just to receive zero compensation while universities profit off their hard work and individual brands.
Most of these student athletes will not become professionals in their sport, and many of them will not play the sport all four years of college. The NCAA and universities should let college athletes capitalize on their brand while they are uninjured and possibly at the peak of their careers.