Column: Is it time to pay college athletes?
Published: Sunday, September 8, 2013
Updated: Sunday, September 8, 2013 23:09
The other day a friend of mine asked me if I had seen the cover of the latest Time magazine. Like most people of today’s generation I did not go to a newsstand, but rather online and there I saw it.
The headline of the cover story read, “It’s Time To Pay College Athletes.” This is not a new debate by any stretch of the imagination; however it has been gaining more attention in the media these days and this cover will only ignite the debate further.
Should we pay college athletes? A very polarizing question, it seems. If colleges and universities were to start paying athletes tomorrow, the ramifications would be felt across the nation. Budgets for universities small and large would need to be increased in an already harsh economic climate.
For schools with powerhouse athletic programs like Michigan and Southern California, this might not be an issue. However for the Florida Gulf Coast’s and Southern Connecticut State University’s of the world, paying athletes could spell disaster.
You also can’t ignore the biggest issue of compensating athletes. How much does each team receive and which teams get paid? Due to Title IX both the men’s and women’s athletic programs would need to be paid. It’s the fair thing to do. One might argue it’s not logical to pay the golf team the same amount as the football team, due to the physical wear and tear a football player goes through during a season. No offense to golf, but in a physical sense, football is a much more demanding sport.
There is also a strong argument supporting payments to college athletes. The NCAA and the schools the athletes compete for have been profiting off their students’ names for years. Walk into the Co-op here at UConn and you will see a variety of different UConn jerseys with a player’s number on the back. The apparel might not have their last names on them, but we all know a No. 15 UConn men’s basketball jersey belongs to Kemba Walker. How much of the $75 price tag do you think Walker sees? Zero.
College football is in full swing, but before the first kickoff the entire country was talking about the actions of Texas A&M quarterback, Johnny Manziel. The Texas native was suspended for the first half of the Aggies’ opening game against Rice, after it was learned that Manziel had sold his autograph for money.
I’m not arguing against the NCAA’s decision to suspend Manziel, he broke a rule. However that rule is stupid and needs to be changed. A college athlete should be allowed to sell their autograph. It is after all their name; they own it, not the NCAA. While I don’t think college athletes should start their own sports memorabilia enterprise while they’re in school, it’s a double standard that professional athletics can sell their namesake, but college athletes can’t.
As far as athletes like Shabazz Napier becoming part of the state of Connecticut’s payroll, I don’t think athletes should be paid to play sports in college. It brings a whole new element to recruiting that basically eliminates athletic programs with a small bankroll, thus stifling competition across the board.
Money changes things. Look at professional sports today, it’s all about the money and it always will be. Collegiate athletics is the chance for athletes to enjoy the game for its simplicity before they turn pro. For students who are not going to be professional athletes after college, it’s a chance to compete for one final time with a team on large stage.
The NCAA has enough problems already; don’t add more money to that equation and keep the love of the game and the thrills of competition alive for future generations of athletes.
Follow Tyler on Twitter @TylerRMorrissey