Pro by Leon Cheong
Jadeveon Clowney. Tim Tebow. Johnny “Football” Manziel. Anyone who has tuned into ESPN has probably heard at least one of the names of these famed college athletes. In the hearts of many college-graduated American citizens is a loyalty to a team they became attached to in their transition into adulthood. College team fandom is often times a major factor in the lives of graduates who go through their lives cheering on the latest star for their team. Teams, like the Texas A&M Aggies who employed the talents of Manziel, profit greatly from televising football; according to USA Today, the university saw $120 million in revenue from its athletic department. Needless to say, schools are making a hefty income off their players. But an issue remains: the players are not being rewarded for their hard work.
According to National College Athletic Association (NCAA) rules, schools are forbidden from offering any form of compensation beyond a scholarship in exchange for a student’s talents, and students are not permitted to accept endorsement deals of any kind. That means players make a net-zero profit off their talents throughout their entire four years of schooling, and players who receive partial-to-no scholarships and must pay tuition are essentially paying to work for their schools.
Problems like these have affected widely-known National Football League (NFL) personalities. Heisman-winner and Detroit Lions running back Reggie Bush was charged with accepting a salary from his alma mater, the University of Southern California (USC). The punishments were harsh and long-term. Bush was pressured to forfeit his Heisman Trophy, and USC is on a post-season probation until the conclusion of the upcoming 2014 season. Any wins that Bush was involved in were wiped off the books.
Athletes are not even allowed to make money off their own names. Johnny Manziel’s number 2 jersey sells for 60 dollars in the Aggies’ bookstore, yet he doesn’t receive a penny. For a shirt with a name on it, a jersey can make quite the return for universities that capitalize off their players’ likeness. Yet when Manziel was suspected of selling autographed merchandise for money in Aug. 2013, the NCAA launched a full investigation.
Somehow, the NCAA has allowed for schools to make money off their players’ names that the players get none of. After the investigation into the Manziel scandal, no evidence was found supporting the claim that he had received money. But he was still punished with a game suspension due to a “violation” of NCAA rules. He may as well have been punished for nothing.
Schools can argue that players receive compensation through scholarships and that a separate income is extraneous and unnecessary. This argument at least makes a miniscule amount of sense. But the rule that makes absolutely no sense at all is the one that bans player endorsements. Robert Griffin III (known as RGIII), earned more money than any other rookie in NFL history between his graduation and his first regular season game. This goes to show that college player endorsements are in high demand for companies like Subway and Under Armour. But a ban on player endorsements again prevents students from earning money off of their own name. For talented players, four years of wasted potential endorsement deals is a rough loss. Recently, colleges have been trying to grow their audiences beyond just their alumni. For example, the Bowl Championship Series plans to switch to a simpler, traditional playoff format next year to encourage people to watch what once before was a confusing and unrelatable series. If restrictions on endorsement deals were alleviated, audiences would begin to see players like Manziel and Clowney advertising the next dollar-menu meal. The player would receive money, and the colleges would increase exposure to their franchises.
Clearly, endorsement deals are a win-win situation. But the bureaucracy of the NCAA has yet to open their minds to these possibilities and continues to immorally prevent players from receiving compensation for their hard work. The best bet for college players to start earning money is to form a player’s union like the NFL Player’s Association and rally for at least some form of pay. For now, they work for free.
Con by Roy Shadmon:
In recent years, many college athletes have been suspended by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) for selling their used equipment and autographs. While many argue that it is in their right to accept money and other benefits, the NCAA rules are fair and the indirect compensation the players receive is appropriate.
First, many division one (D-1) bound players receive full scholarships, which are worth more than $100,000 every year. Approximately $80,000 goes towards tuition, room and food, while the rest goes towards equipment and transportation fees. Assuming the athlete stays at the school for four years (even five if they redshirt, when a player decides to sit out a season to improve their skills and keep their four years of eligibility in their respective sport), the total cost to the school would be around $500,000. The only way for the school to be able to fund scholarships to athletes is through entry fees to the games, food sales, and selling jerseys that don’t have the athlete’s last name on the back. Athletes should receive some sort of allowance from the team for personal use, however, the money the athlete would receive should be neglible sums. The majority of money teams make does eventually go to the players through scholorships; it just does so indirectly. Ultimately, D-1 scholarship athletes receive pay for their services through scholarships to attend the school, which comes with many other benefits in case their athletic career isn’t suitable for the next level.
One benefit that sets up these college athletes who receive full scholarships is the degree of their choice. They have a chance to learn without paying a single dime—an opportunity most people would kill for. Unfortunately, most athletes who are considered superstars of the college game usually decide to enter their respective sport’s draft before they complete enough credits to receive their degree. If the player does choose to complete the required credits, he has a great back-up plan in case his athletic career comes to an end. A degree is worth much more than $50,000, something a player like Johnny Manziel can potentially make through selling his autographs or jerseys.
Another benefit D-1 college athletes receive by going to college is a potential rise in their professional stock. Some athletes may be unknown by professional sport teams, but college provides them an opportunity to play against the best non-professional athletes in the world. By playing well and helping the school win games and championships, good athletes make their way on to a professional team’s draft radar. Without college, they would have never been given an opportunity to play the game that they love as a living.
Lastly, it would also not be the smartest thing to give an 18-year-old student-athlete thousands of dollars through endorsements because at that age most players don’t have the maturity to be responsible with a large sum of money. One example of immaturity among a group of players is the University of Oregon football players; the team currently has a problem with drug use, specifically marijuana, and if players are given money without supervision, many athletes might be compelled to use it for irresponsible activities, such as buying drugs.
Universities are taking the right steps in preventing their student athletes from abusing their potential celebrity status. By preventing the money endorsement money from reaching a student’s wallet and immaturely being spent on other items, the athlete gets a few more years to mature and to learn how to responsibly handle the millions of dollars that they could earn from their respective professional team. That will also force the student athletes to appreciate the rare and special opportunity colleges give them, even if their only obvious payoff comes upon either completing school and then entering the draft or entering the draft as soon as they are on a team’s radar.