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College Athletes Shouldn’t get Paid


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Jamisen Ma

Despite the fact that the best NCAA coaches are paid up to 9 million dollars, college athletes are paid nothing. Last year, all the athletes in Division 1 schools generated 9.15 billion dollars in revenue. Mainly due to the profit they generate, most people think that college athletes should get paid. A more in-depth analysis, however, shows that paying college athletes would disrupt the nature of college athletics.

Colleges prepare athletes to go pro in a way high schools cannot, and if high schools don’t pay their athletes, colleges shouldn’t pay theirs either. In high school, a highly recruited player is likely the best player on the team by a huge margin: everything on and off the court revolves around the player. However, when these players move on to the collegiate level, they are just another player on the team. Playing on a college team gives players the opportunity to play in a competitive environment with teammates of the same caliber, thus teaching them to be an unselfish team player and giving the opportunity to learn what playing professionally feels like. College athletes are, after all, still students: it is unfair to place the expectations that come along with earning a salary on a student trying to pursue their education as well as their sport.

Colleges can also give players scholarships. Full scholarships are up to $53,000, which is a significant portion of the 1.5{74e2084e47f46e06e62dbba283cef78e0e039417a59d0bb63ac31908f44b1eca} of college football players who get the NFL minimum rookie salary of $465,000 and the 1.1{74e2084e47f46e06e62dbba283cef78e0e039417a59d0bb63ac31908f44b1eca} of college basketball players who get the NBA minimum salary of $815,615. This shows that the other 98{74e2084e47f46e06e62dbba283cef78e0e039417a59d0bb63ac31908f44b1eca} of athletes are not considered future pros, and thus, as an amateur, shouldn’t be paid as much. Also, if colleges pay their players in addition to scholarship, some colleges might go into a financial crisis. In 2014, 8 of the Big 12 Conference schools were in debt: University of Texas was over $200 million in debt. Paying 480,000 college athletes each year will only exacerbate this debt, likely resulting in cuts to other parts of the university budget, an act which would be unfair to students in general.  

With interviews and sometimes being nationally broadcasted, playing in college allows the players to get a glimpse of being a pro athlete. The players should be grateful for this type of publicity the players received by the NCAA and not ask for cash. Having a lot of publicity gets players endorsement deals immediately after they leave college, which are sometimes even more than their pro contract. Among the 30 players who got drafted first round in the 2017 NBA draft, 16 already had endorsements deal without playing 1 season in the NBA. This publicity, coupled with resources such as professional coaches, high level training, nutritionists and athletic trainers, results in more than enough money being funneled to the players and the athletics program: compensating the athletes with salaries when players are already benefiting tremendously from the college’s resources is unnecessary and over-the-top.

If players got paid, it would transform college basketball into the NBA for amateurs. College powerhouses, such as Duke, Kentucky and Louisville, use up to $15 million for their basketball program and small schools, such as, Mississippi Valley State, only uses around $500,000. Now, the powerhouses will get all the top recruits because they are able to pay top recruits a lot of money. On the other hand, small schools will be at a disadvantage because top recruits would obviously prioritize money and play at powerhouses instead of building their legacy at small schools. Without some top recruits at small schools, there will be superteams in college athletics and the most exciting college month – March Madness – will be ruined because everybody will know who will win. In short, college basketball will turn into the NBA with a few superteams, and the other teams will be uncompetitive without top high school recruits.

College athletes in need of money could go overseas to play. However, they don’t because of the benefits of college athletics. The coaching, publicity players receive will have a tremendous effect on their future. Having a promising and successful future is worth more than a stipend. It will also not ruin the excitement and spirit of college athletics. If everything is running smoothly, why change it?


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College Athletes Shouldn’t get Paid