Opinion: College Athletes Should Be Paid

Photo Credit: Samantha Parish

Controversial or not, collegiate athletes should receive compensation for their dedication to the sport and the income they generate for the school.

The NCAA has become one of the most popular, and therefore most profitable businesses in the world; each year, the association has an income of over 900 billion dollars.  However, they enjoy the luxury of not having to pay their employees, college athletes.  This is extremely unfair, and leaves the athletes without income in their years at college. All college athletes should be paid.

Unlike their professional counterparts, college athletes get zero monetary compensation for playing their respective sports.  Many people fear paying college athletes because they believe it will ruin the integrity of the sports.  This is an absolutely misguided reservation.  In professional sports, players are paid, and paid well, yet there is no drop in intensity or motivation.  This would be the same with college players if they were given the chance.

Now, I’m not suggesting that these athletes get the outrageous 5 million dollar contracts you see everyday in the NFL and MLB.  Instead, just enough so that they can get through their college years comfortably, cover their tuition, housing, etc.  Between their athletics and regular school work, none of these athletes have the time nor energy to handle even a part time job.  Thus, they have no way of getting income during their years at college.  And when college sports brings in millions of dollars to the colleges themselves, it seems ridiculous that the players do not have the opportunity to share in the profit.

Again, they shouldn’t receive too much.  But when the main source of income for colleges is their athletic programs, how could these athletes not receive any compensation?

Another factor that prevents athletes from receiving salaries is that the big schools could simply pay more to get the better athletes, leaving the smaller schools with the “scraps”. However, this would be easy to counter, by simply implementing a nation-wide salary cap.  With salaries capped at a certain, reasonable amount for schools of all sizes,  the inter-school competition is eliminated, while the atheletes still receive what they deserve.

On the same note, not only could there be an uneven distribution of money between schools, but also within schools between athletes. However, this is as easy to solve as the above setback. In professional sports, football and basketball players certainly make more money than rugby and badminton players, and it should be the same in college. On a smaller scale than in the pros, the more profitable sports should get a higher payroll than the less profitable sports. Athletes should be paid according to how much income their sport brings into the school.

Although the payment of college athletes would be one of the most radical and controversial changes in sports history, it provides fair and appropriate compensation for the men and women who dedicate their lives to their sport throughout their college years.