For years now, there has been speculation on whether the NCAA will finally budge on granting collegiate athletes the right to receive paychecks. The NCAA accumulates millions of dollars every year, and athletes do not have the legal right to cash a single paycheck for their hard work.
Several highly ranked universities across the U.S. house potential professional-bound athletes on their campuses. Due to schools of that caliber selling out stadiums and getting tons and tons of profits, it makes sense that the student athletes should receive proper compensation.
“Most profits from college athletics do not go towards academics. Instead they go to coaches, athletic directors, and some administrators,” Marc Edelman, a writer for Forbes magazine, said in an article published five years ago.
The profits Edelman writes about are figures that people dream about.
In 2014, head basketball coach of Duke University Mike Krzyzewski earned $8.89 million dollars. This was along with Duke itself generating over $27 million, yet those hard-working, struggling athletes receive nothing in return.
“What could happen down the road in basketball, or any sport really, is not a long-term thing—you can’t play basketball until you’re 70 getting paid for it,” Justin Allen, Saint Louis University commit and senior basketball player at Oswego High School, said. “You definitely need to have something in life after that.”
In other words, if someone is going to make any money at all from the sport, their time to do so is limited. Receiving money throughout someone’s career as a college athlete can help set up their life immediately after college.
“As a D3 player…I don’t get the athletic scholarship, so I would probably take most of that money and try to pay off school throughout the next four years,” Cortlund Adams, University of Dubuque commit and senior football player at OHS, said. “[Then] I don’t have to worry about it coming out of college and already having like a whole lot of money [since I’m a] couple thousand dollars in debt.”
Many writers agree with Adams.
“Student-athletes are the ones working hard out on the court and field,” Tyson Hartnett of the Huffington post wrote. “Coaches might have a big effect on a team, but it is up to the athletes to get it done. Coaches receive bonuses for breaking records, reaching the offseason, and winning the big games; the athletes receive none of it.”
Whether you agree or disagree with the possibility of the NCAA changing its tight-knit rule of not paying athletes, numbers don’t lie. 86% of college athletes come from below the poverty line—these athletes were able to persevere through the conditions they were raised in. While under the care of these major universities, you might expect these athletes to level up in life—instead, they leave their families to endure the same hardships with no pay.
On the other side, we cannot deny the fact that universities are still are granting millions of high school athletes a chance to play at the next level. Few are even lucky enough to receive a full athletic scholarship right out of the university’s pocket, which can be worth a few hundred thousand dollars. The average scholarship covers tuition, fees, room, and course-related book costs. Major universities can spend around $200,000 per player, depending on how much the NCAA funds the school’s athletic program. Many argue these student athletes should be ecstatic about this if the opportunity arose instead of asking for more from these universities.
“Even though these college student-athletes may be playing at an advanced level, they still aren’t playing professionally… It is not their job to play sports; it is an extracurricular activity that is pursued while pursuing a higher education,” Dave Anderson, a sports communication writer said. “Student-athletes are going to school to learn, and many are lucky enough to do so for reduced cost, given the often generous athletic scholarships. They are still in college…which is a privilege in itself.”
Not all athletes believe they should receive compensation.
“Personally I feel like they should not be paid,” Allen said. “That’s why they go to college to be student athletes, and student comes first so you don’t get paid to be a student at all.”
The NCAA made 1.1 billion dollars in 2018 due to these athletes’ spectacular performances on major television networks like CBS, NBC and Turner. Not to mention that the NCAA is receiving over 1 billion dollars from these two companies up until 2023 for the long-awaited March Madness tournament.
So, how is this an amatur level, as many call it, if millions of dollars go into it from behind the scenes? How can the NCAA and surrounding schools prosper with riches, yet it is illegal for athletes to even sign their own jerseys for money? The NCAA spent 4.5 million dollars on curtains for the March Madness tournament to keep the sun from beaming in the Final Four stadium. Yet, these highly valued athletes sit in the shadows struggling day and night with school work and increased pressure in one of the highest ranked platforms of sports in the world. But no one wants to talks about that.
“I think that money is deserved, I think that the NCAA makes enough money where college athletes could get some kind of money, any type of money,” Adams said. “College athletes every day are struggling to get food and eat and stuff like that. I know everything comes with that, but at the same time, there’s always struggles that college athletes have to deal with.”
The NCAA has been taking advantage of these young athletes year after year, and they have failed to realize this petty truth. It may not look like it, but it’s the athletes that truly have the power in hindsight. If athletes quit committing to those powerhouse schools, demanded pay from the NCAA an if not choose alternate routes like joining the NBA G league or playing for one of the thousands of overseas teams like China or Europe who pay athletes. If athletes honestly want to make change in their near future, this is a savage approach to grasp attention of the NCAA, that will show without doubt absolute dominance from the athletes and could end the discussion once and for all.