Bring Out The NCAA Checkbook: College Athletes Deserve a Payday

Image courtesy of The Wall Street Journal

Image courtesy of The Wall Street Journal

College athletes for Division I revenue producing sports deserve to be paid due to the incredible amount of money in the collegiate sports industry.

The term “student-athlete” has been accepted by society as an appropriate way to refer to those who play sports at the collegiate level. However, this phrase is incredibly misleading. A “student-athlete” is someone who excels academically, and plays a sport as an extracurricular activity. Athletes for many Division I programs, specifically football and basketball, are given full scholarships to physically compete at a very high level to earn money for their respective universities. The revenue at stake is enormous. In fact, CBS Sports closed a $10.8 billion deal with the NCAA for the rights to the March Madness basketball tournament through 2024. Broadcasting stations and universities continue to rake in revenue, but the players themselves do not make a dime.

Steve Spurrier, head football coach for the University of South Carolina publically acknowledges that his players should be paid; “Because of the tremendous amount of money – billions – they’re bringing in; we as coaches believe these players are entitled to a little more than room, books, board and tuition” (Wilbon).

Spurrier collects a multi-million dollar salary to coach, so why wouldn’t his players be paid to play?

The NCAA answers this glaring question by insisting that these players are students, and should be treated as such. While this defense sounds logical in theory, the reality of the situation proves otherwise. Sports take priority over schoolwork, and players are often disciplined for attempting to put academics over athletics.

Earlier this year, Notre Dame starting quarterback Everett Golson was suspended for a violation of team policy in a crucial game against the University of Miami. Golson was benched for being late to practice after “a meeting with a professor ran long” (“Everett Golson Comes”). Golson has always valued academics, and graduated high school with a 3.8 grade point average (“Everett Golson” Yahoo). However, when trying to continue his classroom excellence, Golson was benched by his coach.

Image courtesy of The Washington Post

Image courtesy of The Washington Post

In Chapel Hill, athletes at the University of North Carolina are also not encouraged to focus on academics. Last year, UNC enrolled its football players in erroneous courses to fulfill their requirements. Many of these classes did not even meet, and the athletes received “limited or no class time” (Pickera). UNC’s football team was put on 2012 postseason probation for committing academic fraud.

Another flaw with not paying college athletes is that some of these players experience setbacks that leave them unable to earn the professional sports money their skillsets should earn them.

University of South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore was considered one of the best in college football until he dislocated his right knee earlier this season. David Geier, an orthopedic surgeon and Director of MUSC Sports Medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina, recognizes the potential setbacks of this injury. Referring to Lattimore, Geier stated, “If an athlete recovers without a limp and gets back to basic exercise, like jogging, we are happy with those results. Regaining pre-injury speed and cutting and pivoting abilities to play at an elite level, as would be needed in the NFL, is much less certain” (Geier). Even if he is able to play again, many NFL teams may be hesitant to give Lattimore a long-term contract due to his injury-plagued past.

Image courtesy of Sports Illustrated

Image courtesy of Sports Illustrated

College athletes are also prevented from using their status to make money in any way. In fact, the NCAA prohibits players from selling their own jerseys. University of Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green learned this the hard way, as he was suspended four games for selling his own jersey. The system keeps players from profiting in any way, even as the NCAA uses them as revenue-producing products.

Furthermore, players are prohibited from accepting endorsement deals. When playing at the University of Florida, Tim Tebow was an icon larger than college football itself. He was more than a sports figure; he was a national sensation. Tebow could have made millions of dollars in endorsements, but the NCAA did not allow him to take advantage of his fame. Still, the NCAA continued to use Tebow’s star power for its own economic benefits. Upon entering the NFL, Tebow immediately received endorsement deals from Nike and EA Sports. The contracts earned him over one million dollars, but Tebow’s fame has decreased since his days with the Florida Gators. The peak of his career was in college, but he was never able to take advantage of it economically. Tebow should have been a multi-millionaire before even signing his first NFL contract.

Division I college athletes of revenue producing sports are being used as money making icons for the NCAA and their respective universities – now these athletes deserve a payday.

Works Cited

Bachman, Rachael. “When Football Is an Economic Strategy.” The Wall Street Journal. N.p., 6 Jan. 2012. Web. 7 Nov. 2012. <>.

Brooks, Matt. “Report: UNC Receiver Erik Highsmith Plagiarized 11-year-olds.” The Washington Post. N.p., 23 Oct. 2012. Web. 15 Nov. 2012. <>.

“Everett Golson.” Yahoo! N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Nov. 2012. <>.

“Everett Golson Comes off Bench as No. 9 ND Rolls past Miami.” ESPN, 6 Oct. 2012. Web. 15 Nov. 2012. <>.

Geier, David. “Marcus Lattimore Injury: Ramifications for Treatment and Return to Football.” Bleacher Report. N.p., 28 Oct. 2012. Web. 7 Nov. 2012. <>.

Pickeral, Robbi. “NCAA Stays Mum on UNC Scandal.” ESPN, n.d. Web. 15 Nov. 2012. <>.

Staples, Andy. “Double Standard Doubly Frustrating.” Sports Illustrated, 8 Sept. 2010. Web. 11 Nov. 2012. <>.

Wilbon, Michael. “College Athletes Deserve to be Paid.” ESPN Internet Ventures, 18 July 2011. Web. 29 Oct. 2012. <>.


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