Shouts From The Stands: Why The NCAA Shouldn’t Pay Athletes

by SwimSwam 52

April 23rd, 2015 College, National, News, Opinion

SwimSwam welcomes reader submissions about all topics aquatic, and if it’s well-written and well-thought, we might just post it under our “Shouts from the Stands” series. We don’t necessarily endorse the content of the Shouts from the Stands posts, and the opinions remain those of their authors. If you have thoughts to share, please send [email protected]

This “Shouts from the Stands” submission comes from Davis Malone:

The NCAA Should Not Pay Athletes 

The NCAA should not consider paying collegiate athletes for their participation in their respective schools athletic programs. The education and services collegiate athletes receive for their participation is enough compensation and will be valuable after they’re done competing athletically. If athletes want to get paid then they might have to say goodbye to their fellow athlete friends who will have their programs cut to help pay for other athletes’ salaries. The bottom line is athletes have the choice to participate in collegiate athletics or not so if they want to get paid then they shouldn’t compete collegiately.


Over the past couple of years sports fans and school administrators have been going back and forth on whether student athletes should get paid for their participation or not. In 2011, former UCLA basketball star Ed O’Bannon filed a class action lawsuit against the NCAA for their use of athletes’ images for commercial purposes (Fox). The lawsuit only covered football and basketball players but since then the idea that all athletes should get paid has come into play.

Those who argue for paying student-athletes believe schools use their athlete’s images and performance to make money and the athletes should be compensated. Additionally, some believe athletes should be paid for all the hours they put into their respective sports and the classroom. Much has also been said about how athletes are improving schools academically as well due to more admissions and smarter applicants thus athletes should be compensated for their contribution to the school.

While it may seem the argument stacks up nicely for those who believe athletes should be paid, there are still those out there who believe they should not. The NCAA is a not-for-profit organization that offers educational services to their participants and money to the schools that have athletic programs. Although it may not seem right that athletes don’t get paid for all their hard work, many argue that college is a stepping-stone towards a professional athletic career and that athletes can wait a few years to get paid millions by professional franchises.

The courts ended up ruling in Ed O’Bannon’s favor and demanded that schools be allowed to offer each athlete five thousand dollars per year of eligibility into a trust for when they are done competing. The NCAA has since appealed the decision and the debate has continued (Fox). Whether or not a final decision will be made soon is unknown but eventually a will be made for this hot topic.

The Education Is Enough

Education in America is especially important today because it is close to impossible to try to land a job without a college degree. Degrees are more valuable depending on where one goes to school but nonetheless a college degree is valuable no matter where it comes from. Americans drive themselves into up to hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt just to go to school or to send a loved one to school. Most former high school athletes would kill to be an athlete receiving a free education for playing a sport they love.

Most collegiate athletes receive some type of money-based athletic scholarship that goes towards paying for an athlete’s education. In addition to the scholarship, athletes receive other perks that the average college student does not. According to the University of Minnesota star senior swimmer CJ Smith, athletes receive “resources such as free tutoring, counseling (psychology and academic), snacks, and more that give them the opportunity to succeed.” (Smith). While that may not seem as nice as spending money, one must consider how much these resources help athletes graduate with a degree and how important those degrees earned are.

The number of college graduates has been rising decade-to-decade as more people have the opportunity to go to college and realize how important a college education is. According to Emily Hanford of American Public Media, 32% of 25-34 year olds have four-year college degrees, which is up from 24% in the 1980’s. To put it in perspective of how valuable those degrees are for the 32% of 25-34 year olds with degree, 60% of all jobs in the United States economy require higher education (Hanford). The number of jobs requiring higher education is only going to get larger and larger as more Americans graduate with degrees.

While some might say that athletes use collegiate athletics as a stepping-stone to get to the professionals, the numbers show that college athletes should start making backup plans if their dreams of being a pro athlete fail. A study done by students at Freedom High School shows how unlikely it is that an amateur athlete makes it to their sports respective professional league:

Student Athletes Men’s Basketball Women’s Basketball Football Baseball Men’s Ice Hockey Men’s Soccer
% High School to College



3.15% 5.8% 5.6% 12.9% 5.7%
% College to Pro 1.3% 1.0% 2.0% 10.5% 4.1% 1.9%
% High School to Pro .03% .02% .09% .5% .4% .08%

(“From High School to Pro – How Many Will Go?” Freedom)

The highest percentages of collegiate athletes who make it professional are baseball players but that does not necessarily mean that they made it to the MLB (Major League Baseball). The minor leagues of the MLB count as going professional, which is why collegiate baseball players have about a 10% chance of making it “professional”. If the study had zoned in on the MLB being considered professional then that percentage would be smaller.

The chances of making a professional sports team is so unlikely that athletes should appreciate and take advantage of the free education and services they are offered. With 60% of US jobs needing a college degree it speaks loudly that academic institutions are giving away free education for athletic participation. A college degree goes beyond the four years of school a student experiences at a university, which makes it hard to put a monetary value on the education offered to athletes.

Additionally, a lot of the money made through athletics is used to pay for non-revenue sports, the athletic director, coaches, school officials, new buildings & facilities, educational programs, etc. All of which benefit the athlete that is helping the school make money. Most colleges aren’t even earning revenues from their larger sports like football and basketball. Sports fans assume that all schools are making money off their sports because college sports are all over TV. There are plenty of Division II and Division III colleges not making any money off of their sports. It wouldn’t be fair to only pay Division I athletes because then it creates a divide between Division I and the other two divisions. CJ Smith did offer up a potential solution for the athletes who perform well for their schools and it would incorporate revenue earning and non-revenue sports. He said, “[athletes] should be allowed to receive outside compensation, such as money for a top-3 finish in a swimming competition” (Smith). This would fix the issue of who should and shouldn’t get paid because only the top athletes would get paid and not all the bench players hoping to score big bucks.

CJ’s point also brings up the issue of the NCAA and their rules on eligibility. In the past year Texas freshman swimmer and NCAA champion Joseph Schooling was cleared to compete for Texas after receiving more than $300,000 in prize money for competing for Singapore the summer before. Back in 2012, former Cal Berkeley star and American record holder Missy Franklin was threatened by the NCAA to lose her eligibility after Justin Bieber sent her a free box of Bieber fan gear. Pretty confusing right? To expand on the confusing, in 2014 University of Oklahoma football players were forced to donate $3.83 for taking too much pasta at a graduation dinner (Fenno). I will admit that if the NCAA is not going to pay their athletes they need to rewrite their rules on what would make an athlete eligible or not. If athletes are to be treated like all other students on campus then they should be able to receive free food and gifts from friends and family but not get paid thousands of dollars for competing for their school or country.

Some will argue that the athletic director (AD), coaches, and school officials should not get paid the amount they do but if an athletic program wants the best coach or best AD then they have to pay top dollars. Furthermore, the athletes who go to Alabama to play for Nick Saban or go to North Carolina to play for Roy Williams are expecting the best coaching they have ever received so it makes sense schools pay their coaches as much as they do. If they did not then the coaches would leave and go to another school willing to pay or to the NBA or NFL.

While on the surface it may seem like athletes are not compensated enough for their participation, once their compensation is broken down it is clear that athletes are getting the most of their college experience. They receive a free education, tutors that will help them over come the struggles of balancing school and sports, and a decent amount of the money they help the school make goes back into their athletic and academic experience.

More Money, More Problems 

College students are notorious for having spending problems, as do professional athletes so the chances a college athlete uses any money given to them wisely is highly unlikely. In 2009, Sports Illustrated published an article about professional athletes and their spending problems. Their findings are astonishing and ultimately led to ESPN creating a documentary a few years later for their 30 for 30 documentary series titled “Broke”. Sports Illustrated concluded that within two years of retirement 78% of former NFL players are broke or under financial distress. As for the NBA, within five years of retirement their former players were broke 60% of the time (Torre). Now imagine how many college athletes would go broke if they were given the amount of money people are suggesting they make.

In ESPN’s Broke documentary former NFL and NBA players who went broke at any point in their life or were still broke (probably why they did the interview) gave insight to why they went broke. Their biggest reasons were they never had that kind of money so they thought it was endless, nagging investors tricking them into faulty investments, sketchy financial advisors taking their money, and having to take care of their friends and family financially. Those are all things that college athletes let alone college students should not be worried about while trying to earn a degree. In addition, the investors and money managers would get in the way of them living a college life and doing well in school.

Although the offer made by O’Bannon to give athletes a $5,000 trust per year of eligibility sounds like a great idea it isn’t the best when analyzing athletes spending problems. A trust would work as long as the athletes are educated on how to spend their money. The research by SI shows that athletes are bad with money in general; no matter what age they are so a trust wouldn’t necessarily be the best option. I do agree that a trust would work for Olympic sport athletes that don’t receive lucrative contracts from sponsors so they can continue training. But the amount of Olympic sport athletes who continue to pursue the dream is much smaller than that of the pool of football, basketball, and baseball players and because the pool is so much smaller it doesn’t justify why all college athletes deserve a trust.

There has been requests to teach college athletes how to save their money, which is very necessary with but they should learn then test what they learn once they are out of school. Students in finance classes, specifically investment classes, aren’t given tens of thousands of dollars to practice their investment skills so why should athletes be given thousands of dollars to blow and put themselves in financial trouble at such a young age.

Athletics are a Choice, Not a Job

When an athlete signs the line on National Letter of Intent (NLI) to play a sport at a NCAA sponsored college they know what they are signing up for. If they have a problem with it they don’t have to sign a NLI. It is very clear to an athlete that they previously should not have and should not going forward receive any type of gift or money for their athletic performance if they want to be eligible to compete in NCAA events. If the athletes believe they should receive a type of gift or amount of money for their play then they should go sign up to participate in an amateur league.

Professional leagues like the MLB, NBA (National Basketball League), NHL (National Hockey League), and NFL (National Football League) have some type of age restriction put in place for those athletes trying to join their leagues. The restrictions do not mention anything about having to attend college to play. It has become the norm though that athletes attend college first before going pro. This norm originated when attending college was only for those that could afford it so getting a free ride to college meant the world to a lot of athletes. Nowadays it seems like revenue sport athletes (athletes competing in revenue earning sports) see college as an obstacle to their path to the professional leagues. If athletes realized how slim their chances of going pro are then maybe they would cherish the chance of being able to go to college for four years to play a sport.

If an athlete has no interest in attending college for its educational purpose then they shouldn’t. Most of the players in the NHL do not receive any type of college education because there are leagues set up for players who just want to play hockey the rest of their lives. The MLB also contains a lot of non-college educated players who wanted to focus more on baseball the rest of their lives than going to get a college degree. Recently, a few high school basketball stars have graduated high school then gone overseas to play as an alternative to going to college before going to the NBA. So far it has worked out well for players like Brandon Jennings, Emmanuel Mudiay, and Jeremy Tyler (who actually left his junior year of high school). Jennings and Mudiay claim that they did not want to go to college for one year then bail when their ultimate goal is to take care of their families. Playing overseas for money does exactly that for them. The NFL should follow their counterparts and make an option for amateurs who have no desire to go to college.

Although paying college athletes would strengthen the talent pool for college athletics, there’s no reason to have them come play, get paid, and not take advantage of the academics. There is someone out there who got denied from the school the player plays for and would’ve paid to go to school and would’ve loved the chance to get educated. With Americas schools systems falling in the rankings we shouldn’t even consider giving a free education to someone who may let it go to waste.

No one is forcing athletes to play collegiate so they should not feel that they deserve the right to be paid for the athletic participation. An athlete should understand what they are signing up for when they sign a NLI and want to receive a college education as part of their compensation. If going pro is their end goal and college education is not important to them they should not sign a NLI and take away a free educational experience from someone else.

Do Not Pay Them

Once broken down the argument for why collegiate athletes should not get paid is pretty clear. While it may seem like individual athletes rake in a lot of money for their schools and receive nothing, the truth is the athletes benefit as much as the school does from the money. They are offered free education, tutors, snacks, counseling, and a chance to extend their athletic career. Even if they were given money it’s plausible they would spend it all and create many distractions for themselves and others around them. Very few high school and collegiate athletes make the professional leagues and those whose ultimate goal is to play professional do not have to play collegiately to get there. In the end paying collegiate athletes could be detrimental to the athletes long-term future and create a large divide between student athletes and regular students.


Fenno, Nathan. “Three Oklahoma Athletes Penalized by University for Eating Pasta.” Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 19 Feb. 2014. Web. 19 Apr. 2015.

Fox, Michelle. “College Athletes Should Be Paid: Former UCLA Star.” CNBC. 24 Mar. 2015. Web. 25 Mar. 2015. <>.

“From High School to Pro – How Many Will Go?” Freedom High School. Georgia State University. Web. 25 Mar. 2015. < High School to Pro Statistics.pdf>.

Hanford, Emily. “The Value of a College Degree.” American RadioWorks. American Public Media. Web. 25 Mar. 2015. <>.

Smith, Clayton. “Should NCAA Athletes Get Paid?” Telephone interview. 25 Mar. 2015.

Torre, Pablo. “How (and Why) Athletes Go Broke.” 23 Mar. 2009. Web. 1 Apr. 2015

In This Story


  1. Matteo says:

    We need to separate college football and basketball from the other collegiate sports. But I assume you are talking about football and basketball because those are the athletes for whom compensation is being discussed.
    Let’s focus on your last section: You assertion that “the athletes benefit as much as the school does from the money” is laughable. College football and basketball players are encouraged to take easy classes and light class loads because the coaches and staff members know that these men and women can’t possibly attend class, study and do homework while attending practices, travelling to games, watching game film and the other ancillary things expected of college athletes. Explain how a college basketball player in the NCAA tournament can possibly go to class during that event. They travel on Wednesday, are at the venue playing, practicing and doing interviews for ESPN Thursday through Sunday, and travel on Monday, I’m sure they are too tired to go to class or study on Tuesday (their one day on campus). But that education is equal to the millions of dollars raked in by coaches, sponsors and broadcasters? That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard all week. Oh, I forgot, the athletes get a “chance” to extend their college careers. Well that’s equal to a millions of dollars. Hey, I just bought a Power Ball ticket. That’s the same as having $20 million because I have a chance!
    And I forgot to mention counseling and snacks! Easily worth a a couple hunderd thousand dollars.
    Besides, those college athletes would just spend that money on dumb things. I mean, those athletes aren’t that smart. Young disadvantaged people abuse their bodies in football to try to raise themselves and their families out of poverty. Surely they would spend any money a school gave them on video games. After all, they have so much free time. Let’s avoid those distractions and give another million to the head coach so he can buy a vacation home.
    If the schools were really about ensuring the education of football and basketball players on their campuses, they would guarantee free tuition for them until they graduated (in a reasonable 7 years or so), and not pull their scholarships (and therefore their education) when they get injured and can no longer perform for the institution. Provide workman’s comp for injured players. PROTECT the players instead of using them as fodder in the football and basketball money mill.
    The arguments you made in your last section could have been made by southern plantation owners defending slavery.

    • Sev says:

      Cue the “why are you playing the race card” people.

      Matteo isn’t playing the race card, and he’s certainly not saying that college athletes are treated like slaves, he’s merely pointing out that Mr. Malone’s arguements that the Univeristy’s provide some great service to the atheletes, and that athletes should “appreciat” what universities do and not ask for fair market value, is very similar to the arguements made by plantation owners that they provided housing and structure to slaves, and that slaves should be “grateful” for all their masters have done instead of asking for freedom to live independently and market comensation for their work.

  2. Danjohnrob says:

    I agree 100%! Education is priceless. In many countries of the world people would give everything they own for the possibilities that a college education could give them! Even in the US, people take on huge debt so their children will have the chance for a better life. If success in a sport has given an athlete the opportunity to attend a university, they are extremely fortunate. I understand that a LOT of time must be devoted to their athletic pursuits, but how is that different than a student who must work to finance their own education? Hopefully the athlete enjoys their chosen sport; if so, they are already getting “paid” to do what they love, which is a goal most people aspire to achieve their entire lives.

    If an athlete decides to give up their scholarship to pursue pro sports they are taking a gamble, and I wish them well. I understand universities want to prevent this from happening to prevent the loss of sports revenues, but if they attempt to provide financial compensation to athletes it will lead to a break-down of the system. First, they will never be able to pay the top-level athletes they hope to keep enough money to prevent them from going pro. Second, in trying to do so, they will not only have to decrease/eliminate scholarships to athletes in non-revenue produing sports, affecting educational opportunity for many student-athletes, they will most likely have to make deep cuts in all departments which will threaten the quality of the education they can provide to all prospective students! IMO, if the NCAA decides to do this, those colleges should lose their tax-exempt status with the federal government, because they have become for-profit sports organizations instead of non-profit educational institutions!

    • PC says:

      Do you really think that these colleges aren’t already for-profit sports organizations? If you look at the highest paid public employee in each state, for 27 states its a college football coach, and for 13 its a college basketball coach…

    • PC says:

      I think a lot of these colleges are already “for-profit sports organizations”. In 40 states the highest paid state emploee is either a college football coach (27 states), or a college basketball coach (13 states).

      • Danjohnrob says:

        PC, I absolutely think basketball, football, baseball, hockey, etc are overvalued in our society/the world, and people who play or coach those sports are overcompensated, but that’s a different argument. I also have no problem with reforming the NCAA, I just don’t think employing athletes to play their sports is the answer to the problem.

        Why don’t the NBA and NFL create a minor league like the MLB has so athletes who aren’t interested in getting a college degree can go work for them? Maybe that would decrease the quality of NCAA basketball, but that’s just fine with me!

        • swammer says:

          No incentive. They get the benefits of the NCAA system at no cost, they will not create their own farm system at their own cost unless they need to.

          • Danjohnrob says:

            Exactly! The NCAA IS providing a benefit to the NBA/NFL AND athletes who hope to go pro! Perhaps they could/should provide even more BENEFITS too. Not that my opinion matters more than that of anybody else who has no authority to make/change rules, but I say: give the athletes educational opportunity for as long as it takes them to finish their degree and guarantee it even if they can’t play due to injury, give them tutoring help if needed, give them medical and dental and PT, pay for their housing and food and give them the best coaching and training and equipment and facilities possible, but don’t give them a PAYCHECK! If they don’t care about education and they want to take their chances in the NBA/NFL, then they can take their chances, and I wish them luck, I truly do; but, I suggest they save their money, because if it doesn’t work out, they’re going to need some savings to go back and FINISH that degree later!

    • Danjohnrob says:

      By the way, I am also 100% in favor of guaranteeing scholarships for athletes and providing full medical coverage for them. I just don’t think they should receive cash payment.

  3. CollegeSwimmer says:

    Every varsity athlete gets full scholarships to attend the colleges we go too. We are definitely getting a free* education. /sarcasm

  4. ChestRockwell says:

    I wish I had the time to write how much I disagree with this. Athletes wont’ likely go pro so they shouldn’t get paid? It will create a divide between DI and DIII? The divide already exists. It will create a divide between athletes and students? Did you even go to college? Athletes are already treated differently than regular students. The Big East made $150 million on Men’s Basketball alone. The SEC Network was able to pay out $20 Million to schools. Athletes sacrifice their bodies for this money, none of which they see.

    I seriously can’t even.

  5. Coach Andy says:

    More fakery from the ncaa. Education is priceless… Like the grade enhancements at chapel hill? Here is your degree in advanced stage building. Now go make your millions. How about pay the big money athletes and leave the swim programs alone.

  6. Locks says:

    This article does one thing well-it frames the issue. Is it out of touch with reality? Yes. Is it one dimensional? Yes. Unfortunately where it tries to be constructive, it fails. Division 1 and division 2/3 schools are not comparable in terms of athletic revenues and expenditures, thus they should certainly not be categorized together. Division 1 athletic departments are run very much like businesses. Even my head coach at a top 20 swimming program acted as just as much of a manager as a coach and used scholarship money like performance bonuses. Division 2/3 programs are run like nonprofits. My sister currently swims at one and it is much more relaxed and enjoyment focused. Lastly and most importantly, the NCAA is NOT the salvation army. Just because an organization is technically a ‘nonprofit’ does not mean it has no need or desire for large amounts of money. There are much more fair ways of distributing the money earned by college students in athletics. Does it sound like socialism? Yes. Is it necessary so we stop seeing college sports teams getting dropped left and right? Yes.

  7. TheTroubleWithX says:

    Part of the problem is that we try to have these discussions without considering the larger, underlying questions, either because we are unable or unwilling to. Two of these points that really need to be discussed first:
    1. What is the ultimate goal of education?
    2. In what ways are all facets of a college/university supposed to support #1?
    3. How, particularly, do college athletics play into these considerations?

    Obviously I’m not anti-sports, as I spend a good amount of time on SwimSwam and a few other sports sites, but I am concerned that we’ve begun to reach a place where the tail wags the dog, metaphorically speaking.

  8. Tim Noonan says:

    “the chances a college athlete uses any money given to them wisely is highly unlikely.”
    ^This is rather poorly argued.

    At the very least, programs like Bama football and UK basketball should pay their players, and athletes who earn money through performances (i.e. prize money, grants, etc. not sponsorships) should be allowed to keep it. Most college athletes wouldn’t be paid, and that’s fine. But athletes who make a ridiculous amount of money for the NCAA and their school; as well as athletes who are good enough to be winning prize money should absolutely be paid.

    I have no idea why the idea that athletes being unpaid makes sports pure still prevails in the sports world – someone is making a profit off of what the athletes do, and it’s not the athletes.

  9. Johnnycakes says:

    I agree with this article 100%! Coming out of high school, I never got the chance to earn my education through swimming because of a catastrophic shoulder injury that ended my swimming career. It drove me nuts that the university I attended had a decent (mid-major) aquatics program that was constantly cutting funds in order to bolster their truly horrid football team. Football players had their own dining room, workout center, and an army of tutors to help them succeed. And yet, half of them ended up on academic probation anyway. I hope that revenue sport athletes do not get paid, otherwise many more non-revenue programs, especially men’s swimming and water polo, are going to be cut.

  10. Coach JB says:

    If the education was a world class education I might be more sympathetic, but as the North Carolina grade inflation/cheating case has shown us the education was worth nothing. Since the NCAA has come out and publicly stated that it is not there responsibility to make sure the education is credible, your first point is invalid. Source:

  11. bad parent says:

    Is swim swam tanking for a #1 pick?

    Worst article ever posted on swim swam. A new record in NCAA pandering. But it is a record – so something was achieved.

  12. THE Other Hulk says:

    I wish I had time to write a full response as well, but I feel as if the arguments presented here are dangerously off base, and are presented in a “matter of fact” way. I understand this is opinion, but as a swim community I feel like when presented like this it causes misinformation that can lead to people saying, “well it’s gotta be true, I read it on the internet!”

    Don’t pay them because former athletes have gone broke? To me it’s like saying, “Let’s not provide spoons in the dining hall because some students have made poor nutritional choices and gained the freshmen 15.”

    When it comes to compensation, 4 year guaranteed scholarships for major schools as well as medical help is what I believe is the direction that we need to go in. It’s more for the athlete (especially if they get hurt while competing for their school), but won’t justify cutting programs that have no chance of generating revenue, like Swimming and Track.

    Am I for paying student athletes? As a swim coach, of course I can’t be for it when the reality means that sports that generate the revenue (Basketball) will receive the maximum to keep up with the Jones’s at possibly the expense of swimming. Do I think there are better arguments out there that support not paying athletes? Yes.

  13. Liam says:

    While I agree education is indeed invaluable, and collegiate sports are a choice, the wealth these athletes bring in is at least worth a compensation of some sort, whether it be an increase in scholarship monies, free room and board or free access to food on campus. These athletes deserve something from the “non profit” NCAA to better their situation. Personally I think a stipend given to athletes to pay for extra expenses or food would be best, in the past couple on months we have heard of “hungry nights” for players in the final four. That is unacceptable, athletes should be given the best opportunity to succeed academically and athletically- and eating is vital to that goal of the best performances by athletes.

  14. Just a dude says:

    As a D1 college swimmer, it’s in my best interest to oppose revenue sports paying their athletes. But beyond just that, I personally believe that having an education has intrinsic value and improves the quality of life of those who receive it. In regards to the UNC fake class fiasco, it should be the responsibility of the individual to pursue an education because they personally believe it’s in their best interest. The root of the problem of this is that athletes of all sports value the sport they play (and the potential money they can earn) over being educated. And the root of that problem lies solely in societal expectations and media idolizing athletes over people who actually do important things for society (mothers, teachers, scientists, etc.)
    Beyond all that, I think an athlete should be able to make some of the earnings related directly to their name (so jerseys, memorabilia, etc.) but when it comes down to it, college sports fans often aren’t really concerned about the individual athlete, they care about their team. Fans of Ohio State will be rooting for Ohio State whether they win national titles or get last in the Big Ten. And while the more successful programs obviously make more money, the brand name of the university often is what’s selling the merchandise and tickets.

  15. Athlete says:

    As a current student athlete and one who is not on a full scholarship or even close, I 100 percent think that student athletes should get paid. We have a tremendous work load, busy schedules, and never have any down time. We do not have time to work a job to make money for every day activities and this is something that many of us struggle with. While scholarship money helps with the schooling, we have nothing to help us out for non school related things. I think it is absurd that anyone would say that we don’t deserve it.

    • The OTHER Hulk says:

      Athlete, absolutely no one here thinks you don’t DESERVE it, but where will it come from?

      We throw the words “revenue sports” around a lot, but most athletic departments operate in the red.

      Imagine if your school had to come up with $5,000 per year per athlete on your team. Team of 25 would be $125,000. Ask yourself, where would this money come from?

      The only real answer would be why athletic departments are in the red in the first place, high profile coaches (Coach Cal, Urban Meyer, Coach K etc) get PAID. Would a school rather lose a high profile coach in a major sport, or cut back from 18-20 varsity sports to 10 to keep up with all other schools? I bet you could guess what sport May be on the chopping block in this case.

  16. bobo gigi says:

    Not exactly the topic of this debate but interesting article from 2 weeks ago I’ve read on a track and field website about college olympic sports.
    The headline is very well chosen. Billions for March Madness but pennies for olympic gold.
    USOC president said: “College sports have never had more revenue than they have today, but college sports programs are being cut. It’s kind of upside down.”
    And these olympic sports, unlike in most of the other nations, don’t receive any government funding.
    Rich get richer. The others can survive.
    That really looks like what your crazy R friends in Congress think and vote.
    We continue to cut taxes for the top 0.1% which is in the greatest need as we all know and of course at the expense of the poor and the middle class with deep cuts in health and education for example. College is very expensive in USA. A lot of students get into much debt and these guys prefer help billionaires or people who hide their money in tax havens rather than young students who want to study to have a decent life later.
    NCAA or R Congress, same philosophy: trickle down theory! Which has been very successful as we all know in the past 30 years! 😆
    We have seen the result of that disaster for USA and then the rest of the world in 2008 with the financial and economic crisis.
    What will be the result of that theory for the US olympic sports if it continues the way it is?
    Answer in 2024 or 2028?

  17. Larry says:

    While I can understand the perspective of those that agree with paying athletes, the reality of the situation is that this would cause many schools to cut some non-revenue sports, including swimming. The rich schools like Texas and Stanford would be able to pay the athletes and maintain their programs, but many athletic departments do not have a surplus and the cost of paying athletes would cause them to make difficult decisions about which sports to keep.

    • PK says:

      I don’t think that schools would be cutting non-revenue sports like swimming outright nearly as often as people think as a result of paying college athletes. The more likely outcome is that some of the current funding for non-revenue sports (like scholarships and salaries) would be redirected towards the revenue generating sports. There will remain a sizable market for athletes that won’t attend a college that doesn’t have a swimming program, and there will remain colleges that offer swimming programs in order to serve those athletes (basically, how the D3 model sustains itself).

      • larry says:

        Texas floated what they thought the pay for play system would look like last year, and it included payments to all athletes, not just football and basketball. Wouldn’t Title IX dictate that you have to pay female/male equitably? Anyway, Texas would pay $10k per year per athlete, or $6 million annually for all their athletes. How many schools could really compete with that? If this were to happen, non-rev sports would be dominated by a few schools (moreso than already). Many mid-major type schools would drop male non-rev to concentrate on football and the balancing female non-rev.

        I think a more workable plan may be to allow athletes to profit from their name and image, but not make direct payments to them. This would have to be regulated so rogue programs didn’t funnel payments thru image/name deals, but I think it has a better chance of saving non-revenue sports as we know it today.

        • Hulk Swim says:

          “a more workable plan may be to allow athletes to profit from their name and image, but not make direct payments to them.”

          I’d like to see this happen as a first step. Ultimately the football and basketball players will get paid. But this would allow the odd swimmer or two and a golfer or tennis player to make some money on the side. Run a clinic on the weekend. Model for Speedo. Make an appearance at a local 5k run. etc.

    • Hulk Swim says:

      Looking at it from a swim-centric standpoint- yes… it would be a bad idea to pay the football/basketball players. But that’s not a good reason not to do it.

      That’s like saying you are aware of the horrible working conditions at your local ice cream shoppe (working 12 hours a day for $5 an hour and the manager keeps the tips), but shrugging your shoulders because it allows you to enjoy your weekly ice cream cone at a reasonable price.

      Would swimming programs get cut? Probably. Areswimming programs going to get cut wither way? Definitely.

      We know that swim programs need to find ways to fund themselves to survive. The writing has been on the wall for years.

      Instead of supporting an archaeic, hypocritical, corrupt system because it benefits us in this moment, let’s focus our attention on how to provide post HS swimming opportunities to our athletes.

      I can see a future of swimming that doesn’t include NCAA swimming as we know it… but more of a loosely affiliated, college based club system that is completely self funded as the current clubs are.

      The NCAA doesn’t care about swimming. We need to be prepared for a future where our sport isn’t part of their funding.

      • PK says:

        I mean, to be fair…the NCAA doesn’t really care about football or basketball either. It simply cares about its own self interests, which are to make as much money as possible. If it actually cared about “the game” of basketball and competitive fairness (and this is a very simple example), things like Ohio St MBB playing 1 away and 1 neutral site game in their 13 game non-conference schedule would not occur. But the interest of OSU (and most other big programs) directly coincides with the interest of the NCAA, so as a result, it’s perfectly allowed.

        Sports Illustrated did an illuminating piece a year or two ago that showed the history of the NCAA through the first few decades, and how it was pressured by the same arguments that it faces nowadays, but that the arguments came from slightly different places-paying for disability for players, for example. The NCAA did not collapse then because it remains an entertainment producer for consumers who wish to view that type of entertainment, and that remains the case today.

        Btw, in case it wasn’t clear, I do agree with the vast majority of your argument.

      • larry says:

        If post-high school swimming turns into loosely-affiliated club swimming, what do you think the long-term prospects of the sport are? Past the age-group years, the goal of many (most?) swimmers is to be able to compete in college and hopefully earn a scholarship. Many good students hope swimming is their “in” to a great academic school. If that carrot disappears, outside of the very elite that have legit Olympic goals, does it seem reasonable that high school kids will put in the time and sacrifice so that they can swim for a club team in college? Maybe. Maybe not.

      • Swimbob says:

        A better ice cream shop analogy: The guy in the shop who creates and serves triple chocolate ice cream gets paid $100/hr, while the guy who creates and serves pumpkin flavored ice cream loses his job. Both work equally hard. Neither creates advertising, promotes the shop, or works to coax customers to buy. Why should the first guy be rewarded simply because the public enjoys his product more? Yes, it’s fair to ask why the store owners keep such a large percentage of the profits for themselves, but that is far different than claiming the first worker is entitled to more than the second. Non-revenue sports enthusiasts need to speak up NOW!

  18. Michael says:

    I think the issue could be resolved without schools directly paying players if the NCAA just relaxed their definition of amateurism. If a kid can make money on the side modeling for a watch company or being in a commercial for the local car dealership, these issues would take care of themselves. As long as the kid is not being paid to play his or her sport full time, they should be able to control their own likeness to obtain alternative revenue streams. Hell, the kids would give back their scholarships, if they could make money elsewhere. The schools could still make money off the kids, and maybe some of the kids in basketball might stay in school a little longer. Then of course after the kid leaves the school, they should regain the rights to their likeness.

  19. A humble opinion says:

    The question over whether student athletes should get paid is an interesting one, and as THETROUBLEWITHX pointed out, calls for us to address several questions. I will focus on the first.

    “What is the ultimate goal of education?”

    Clearly, different people are going to answer differently to this question. Some will focus on the academic, others will focus on other values (values, worldview, etc). I think we should make this question a little more specific, in order to make it more applicable.

    What is the ultimate goal of education for a student-athlete?

    As many have pointed out, this differs greatly from D1 to D3, and within D1, from sport to sport. For the D1 basketball/football player, college is a necessary stepping stone in order to be eligible for professional competition. And I think we could all imagine easily that the best college “big sport” athletes never really focused too much on their grades. They were probably lucky to make it to class on any given day. While the NCAA can scream and shout as much as it wants, these athletes clearly did not go to school for education. They went because they had to.

    If the purpose of their “education” is only to compete in professional athletics, then I see nothing wrong as treating them as such: professional athletes. But say they went to school for something more than just to go pro. Then the question becomes more difficult.

    I guess I’m saying that the very best athletes, that would have gone pro had they not had to go to school, should get paid. Others athletes with less professional prospects may or may not. I’m not fully convinced any one way.

    As a tangent: I think it’s nonsensical how students can receive huge sums of money for academic awards for academic feats (like Hackathons, competitions, debate, etc). But athletes can’t see a cent. If we define education as encompassing both the academic and the athletic, then to treat each case differently is unfair. But I digress.

    A D1 Swimmer

  20. KS says:

    I am confused by all the apparent non swim folks on here. Paying athletes in excess to their scholarship is a horrible for our sport. Most schools are not actually profiting from athletics no matter how good there facad

  21. KS says:

    Facade is. Mid major schools and even schools in the power 5 will have trouble keeping up if they are paying athletes. Eventually cuts will have to be made, and it will not be football and basketball. As a former scholarship athlete, I can tell you that the money you receive from the ACTUAL cost of attendance is more then enough. Those who tell you otherwise are obviously not spending it wisely. I had more than enough to live and eat well all from my scholarship money.

    • CT Swim Fan says:

      I was hoping that there would be some athletes or former athletes chiming in. I too am a former D1 swimmer and never went to bed hungry at night. We were out of practice in the morning and at night in time to eat as much as we wanted and got lunch in between classes. I rolled my eyes when the article with the Shabazz Napier quote about “going to bed hungry some nights” hit the papers. It was front page news here in CT as he played for UConn. Everyone ate it up and all of a sudden the poor college players were all hungry. BS. If you read the link above, many athletic departments are not even close to breaking even. According to the story the accounting is done differently at different schools, but the bottom line is many of them need help to pay the bills. If schools are forced to pay athletes $5000 a year it is bad news for non revenue sports like swimming.

      • Hulk Swim says:

        I don’t think the issue is whether it’s good for swimming or not. Paying athletes will hurt swimming. No doubt. But there are plenty of people making insane amounts of money off of college sports. Eventually, the players are going to get some of that money. Specifically the football and basketball players.

        But swimming is hurting anyhow. Programs are getting cut at an alarming rate. We can’t expect non-swimmers to be looking out for swimming when there is money to be made in helping and supporting other sports.

        We have to look out for our own. Plan for a future without the support of the NCAA… because they are likely planning for a future without swimming.

  22. Jenkei says:

    Let’s just take a step back and look at the big picture. Is it really worth it getting a paper in the U.S. for $40k that would be equivalent to a high school diploma a couple of decades ago? (Hint: let’s just take a look at some of Europe’s top programmes, for which tuition does not exceed $15k)

    After we’ve resolved the tuition question, we should go on to ask ourselves: who is providing the money, and who is receiving it? Obviously most of the money comes from the NCAA and the colleges themselves, which in turn gather their money from marketing the athletes and student tuition, respectively. Everyone blames FINA for hiding their expenses, but I dare question how much the NCAA actually pockets from the money it receives.

    Money is then spent on funding athletic directories, which then go on to pay ridiculous salaries to coaches.

    So before we accuse college athletes of how privileged they are, why don’t we consider that they are technically their institutions’ employees in terms of obligations? And then let’s talk about what percentage of the money that is circulated surrounding athletics they actually receive.

  23. Richard Henderson says:

    KS made a very important point. Last year a star UCONN basketball player got a lot of media play because he maintained that he went to bed hungry on a number of occasions. This is an example of something that could be true as a result of his using his scholarship unwisely. After their freshman year, athletes are often given a stipend to cover room and board. If you spend an outrageous amount for housing, it is possible you might be hungry but SHOULDN’T BE. The overwhelming majority of full scholarship athletes I’ve know had no problems affording room and board.

  24. jiggs says:

    So athletes should clearly be allowed to accept money earned before ncaa and during the off-season.

  25. Liam says:

    I would argue that the money given to athletes shouldn’t have to come from the colleges at the expense of losing teams or high profile coaches; however, this money should come from the NCAA. They make millions upon millions of dollars and save it with the intent of leaving it there. No self-claiming not for profit functions like this. So the money shouldn’t come from the colleges, but instead the big businesses who pay to advertise, through the NCAA, during major sporting events which in turn makes them an a** load of money.

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