Should college athletes get paid?

Study: "The Price of Poverty in Big Time College Sport"

The NCPA and Drexel University Department of Sport Management conducted a joint study, which blames colleges sports scandals on a black market created by unethical and unpractical NCAA restrictions on college athletes. Examining football and basketball teams from Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) colleges, the study calculates athletes’ out-of-pocket educational related expenses associated with a “full” scholarship, compares the room and board portion of players’ scholarships to the federal poverty line and coaches’ and athletic administrators’ salaries, and uses NFL and NBA collective bargaining agreements to estimate the fair market value of FBS football and basketball players. The study highlights college presidents' admission of their inability to reform college sports and calls for federal intervention to help bring forth a new model of amateurism in college sports that emphasizes education, minimizes violations, and allows players to seek commercial opportunities.

Highlights

- The average scholarship shortfall (out-of-pocket expenses) for each “full” scholarship athlete was approximately $3222 per player during the 2010-11 school year.

- The room and board provisions in a full scholarship leave 85% of players living on campus and 86% of players living off campus living below the federal poverty line.

- The fair market value of the average FBS football and basketball player was $121,048 and $265,027, respectively.

- University of Texas football players’ fair market value was $513,922 but they lived $778 below the federal poverty line and had a $3,624 scholarship shortfall.

- Duke basketball players were valued at $1,025,656 while living just $732 above the poverty line and a scholarship shortfall of $1,995.

- The University of Florida had the highest combined football and basketball revenues while its football and basketball players’ scholarships left them living $2,250 below the federal poverty line and with a $3190 scholarship shortfall.

My take has always been that college athletes are employees that generate a ton of revenue. Practice and games are mandatory attendance, like a job. Other college students are allowed to work at the school, and can demand wages that are competitive with what they can make off-campus, while athletes are restricted from holding an outside job.

I've also always felt that as a whole, their scholarships leave them vastly underpaid. There ought to be a way to regulate the industry and still provide athletes compensation commensurate with the revenue they generate.

And finally, what benefit does imposing such a harsh standard for amateur eligibility do for anyone besides those making the money off of their production?

Absolutely. Any athlete who participates in a sport that brings in millions of dollars each year for the university should be paid.

Not all athletes, though. I was a swimmer in college. Swimmers should not be paid, as they bring in no money for the school and generally only exist because the bigger sports make enough to subsidize them. Same goes for most other sports as well.

I would settle for college athletes not being forced to live under ridiculous can't-buy-me-a-meal kind of rules.

billt721 wrote:
Absolutely. Any athlete who participates in a sport that brings in millions of dollars each year for the university should be paid.

Not all athletes, though. I was a swimmer in college. Swimmers should not be paid, as they bring in no money for the school and generally only exist because the bigger sports make enough to subsidize them. Same goes for most other sports as well.

Yeah but how do you create rules around that? To me the problem isn't that people don't want to pay football/basketball players, it is that the same rules apply to those sports as swimming, field hockey, etc... Do you create a rule with a special exception like football and basketball players can receive a stipend of up to $10,000 per year? Then what about ice hockey or baseball at schools that bring in a lot of money for that? Or a school that has tons of endorsements for their golf team or whatever new sport comes up? Do you also pay all of the support staff that travel with the team that are also students? Equipment people, scorers/stats, A/V guys, cheerleaders, even the band? It is murky.

Say you did give football players just 10k each. There are like 70 guys on the team, that is an extra $700,000 that sure the Alabamas and the U of Floridas could afford, but what about smaller schools with smaller programs?

I also think an interesting discussion, at least for basketball, is if you did pay college players would less of them leave early for the pros? And what would be a good incentive line to stay? $10k? 50K? 200k?

I think it is complicated, but that is not a good enough reason to let school's keep so much revenue generated from underpaid labor.

One suggestion would be for school's to pay a tax to the NCAA or another third party. they would then distribute funds in some sort of a fair way. I definitely do not think having schools compete with each other is a good idea. But all TV money could fund a program that distributes money to athletes in some way. Maybe football and basketball get more? Maybe all athletes get the same.

I'd prefer it if college sports with a sustainable economy, Basketball and Football, turned away from being attached to Universities and colleges and moved to some sort of minor-league club-team system. I don't see why education has to be attached to a player's sporting career if he or she really just wants to play professionally. Is Carmello Anthony's life any better for having attended a few lectures of gen ed classes for 1.5 semesters?

S0LIDARITY wrote:
I'd prefer it if college sports with a sustainable economy, Basketball and Football, turned away from being attached to Universities and colleges and moved to some sort of minor-league club-team system. I don't see why education has to be attached to a player's sporting career if he or she really just wants to play professionally. Is Carmello Anthony's life any better for having attended a few lectures of gen ed classes for 1.5 semesters?

No, but the percentage of college athletes who go on to play professionally is tiny, so that's not necessarily a good reason to divorce the education from the sports. Furthermore, the education (and any payment for their athletic work) would be a lot more valuable if someone like Carmelo had suffered a career-ending injury while in college.

One of my friends was a classmate with Carmelo at SU and I can assure you that he gained nothing from his 'education'. It's hard to learn anything when your homework is handed to you by the tutor at the door of your class. I do believe that most student-athletes get great value from their education, but there's clearly room for those who aren't interested in learning. I don't know enough about the logistics of running a sports league, but I'd prefer to see some sort of club system.

I wish that college athletes in the major sports got a 1 v 1 ratio of year's played to scholarship but applied AFTER there playing time. All these kids getting a worthless degree or taking worthless classes because they are too busy practicing/etc sucks. It would be better for them if they find out they don't go to the big show or becoming injured, then they can decide on a good choice.

The annual NBA draft is a total of 60 players, and a decent number of them are foreign. For every Carmelo that you are pretty sure is going to the NBA there are 1000 or more 'regular' college basketball players. Carmelo could have gone and played for a professional club or something if he wanted to, there is no NBA requirement that you have to play for a college.

If the system actually worked like it supposedly purports to then no they wouldn't need to get paid.

Problem is from what I hear as anecdotal evidence players are not getting much of an education and are getting 'paid'.

Instead of trading their labour for a good education they get a made up one worth nothing. To make up for this they get 'kickbacks' in various forms nowhere near what their labour is probably worth.

Just strip away the charade and pay them something. Maybe nothing close to what the pros get as I'm fine with them subsidizing other sports but it would be nice if we stopped turning a blind eye to whats actually going on.

It seems like the players should get more help with subsistence if they are not allowed to hold down jobs. A cost of living allowance or something. At the same time, I went to college on a full ride academic scholarship, but I also had to cover room and board. I worked summers and got help from my parents for that. I had some minor jobs on campus just for spending money. And, hell yeah, I lived below the poverty level! I'm not sure that's where we should draw the line in this case.

Jayhawker wrote:
One suggestion would be for school's to pay a tax to the NCAA or another third party. they would then distribute funds in some sort of a fair way. I definitely do not think having schools compete with each other is a good idea. But all TV money could fund a program that distributes money to athletes in some way. Maybe football and basketball get more? Maybe all athletes get the same.

I sort of like that idea, although I don't know how you implement it. It also seems like you have to pay all scholarship athletes in all sports the same, and that's going to be difficult. Most athletic programs already lose money.

While the football and basketball programs at many places are net money makers, the athletic departments as a whole do not. (Of the public Division I schools, only about 10% turned a profit.) If you're going to give scholarships to the money-making sports, Title IX dictates that you also have enough other money-losing athletic programs to give equal numbers of scholarships to women (I think rightfully). You can't just say you'll only keep profitable teams within a university.

S0LIDARITY wrote:
...there's clearly room for those who aren't interested in learning.

It's funny, given the resources being laid out for college educations, but I think you could say this about *all* students, not just athletes. There are plenty of students on campuses who aren't really interested in learning. They get their degrees with a minimum of effort and then head out into the work force.

Look, it's clear that many of the athletes aren't interested in learning, but that's incredibly short-sighted on the part of those who aren't definitely going on to the pros. When you consider these scholarships are tax free, student athletes are getting the equivalent of $100,000 to $250,000 in net benefits through tuition over their four years (lower for out of state educations at public schools, higher for the full rate at private institutions) before you even consider the cost of the tutoring and other programs to which they have access. Shame on them if they don't take advantage of that.

It would be nice to find a way to cover some more living expenses. But, even though some may not take it seriously, and many outsiders would poo-poo the notion, let's not forget that they're getting a hell of an educational benefit. If they don't want to take advantage of it, then they don't have to do so. They can go play basketball on a club team in Europe or stay at home and work a real job.

Yes.

/thread

Seriously, it's asinine the rules these kids live under. They're part of a multi-billion dollar business, and they deserve more than tuition and the other piddly stipends they get in comparison to the revenue they generate. It's just freaking shameful.

firesloth wrote:
It seems like the players should get more help with subsistence if they are not allowed to hold down jobs. A cost of living allowance or something. At the same time, I went to college on a full ride academic scholarship, but I also had to cover room and board. I worked summers and got help from my parents for that. I had some minor jobs on campus just for spending money. And, hell yeah, I lived below the poverty level! I'm not sure that's where we should draw the line in this case.

The issue isn't that they deserve money because they are poor, it's because they generate millions of dollars for what is essentially their employer. And their employer has set up the rules to prevent them from negotiating a fair wage.

The issue isn't that they deserve money because they are poor, it's because they generate millions of dollars for what is essentially their employer. And their employer has set up the rules to prevent them from negotiating a fair wage.

Which makes them like workers in every other large business in this era of neutered labor laws. (Where, even though productivity and profits have risen substantially over the last two decades, wages have been flat. Thus, workers are enriching shareholders and managers with their ever-growing output.)

That P&C commentary aside, the original post makes the point that the scholarship athletes are living on wages below the poverty line. I countered that it was like most other students, only athletes usually don't have the time or the ability to get a job (without potentially falling afoul of NCAA rules violations).

It is easy to say we should pay these athletes who are generating such a large business (and I sympathize with that). At the same time, as I noted above, only about 10% of the universities find the entire enterprise of athletics is profitable. Universities have to treat all athletes equally, and they have to provide for non-profitable sports in order to meet their Title IX obligations. Thus, while it is ultimately a multi-billion dollar endeavor, most universities aren't making a profit on it directly.

So, who is being enriched? Coaches, administrators (to a minor degree), ESPN/CBS/FOX/etc., bowl organizations, etc.

Maybe the solution isn't to pay the athletes at universities (who aren't employees, for liability reasons), but to have honest-to-goodness minor leagues in football and basketball. Then the players would have the choice – go to college on scholarship (where you get an education and an opportunity to continue to be a kid) or take a low-paying minor league position where your net income may be substantially less than the equivalent value of the scholarship being offered.

Aren't there minor leagues in basketball? There are semi-pro teams, but no one watches them. So, most athletes decide it is in their best interest to accept a scholarship and play at a university where they'll get more recognition and exposure. So, in fact, that choice is already here, it's just they get a better deal by going to college than into the semi-pros.

I think athletics should be taken out of college and there should be actual lower level development leagues where the players go instead. And get paid.

ala this article:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000...

So, there's something about this I don't understand. Why is this organization (NCPA) advocating increasing the living allowance by $3000 for only basketball and football players? I think they have a good argument in that the money that gets collected at the NCAA level could be pretty equitably split amongst all the players. However, if they're for the fair treatment of athletes, why highlight only those sports?

I can imagine their argument is that they're the ones that make the money. Okay, but they can't be given their scholarships unless they are matched in women's sports. So, wouldn't that apply to these living costs, as well? Are they arguing that the women or non-profitable sports athletes are less committed?

If the money is available at the NCAA level through the massive growth in their TV contracts (as noted by the NCPA), then that's perhaps a source for providing for the living allowances at all the participating universities.

I agree that it sucks for the student athlete, but if I had to pick a lesser of all evils, I would have to come against directly paying players.

- As sloth noted, most athletic departments don't turn a profit. With the consolidation happening in NCAA, that number probably gets better as new TV deals for the megaconferences take shape, but either way its not like there's all this extra money sitting around. Most of the SEC, Texas, and the big schools in the Big 10 turn a profit, and maybe they can pay the players, but what about the rest of us?

- I don't think claiming poverty is a reason to pay NCAA athletes. Last I checked, most college students live below the poverty line. For 3 years I had zero income, and in the 4th I was making minimum wage at the library. My dad could be Bill Gates but if I'm in college and not working, I'm below the poverty line. No one is buying tickets to watch me study in the library, but to say student athletes have it worse than the rest of the student body isn't necessarily true.

- Unlike the pros where there's like around 30 teams, there are over 120 football/basketball programs in FBS/D1 and they are all very different. $1000 in Tuscaloosa is worth a lot more than $1000 in Palo Alto. Cost of living aside, the value of the scholarship varies wildly. Ignore academic reputation, and a year @ Stanfurd will cost you $41K in tuition + $13K in housing. The total cost of a year at Bama is $19K. Over 4 years, even if you never learned a thing, you've received $140K more of value at furd then you did at bama. Should the kid at Bama get more to make up for this? Or should the kid at stanfurd get more because cost of living in the bay area is nearly 75% more than Tuscaloosa?

- A lot of schools also take a lot of pride in their non-revenue sports. Out here in the West, we are proud of our volleyball, swimming, water polo. Schools in the North have their hockey, and I always see schools like John Hopkins on TV in the lacrosse championships. The only way we could compete with the big football schools would be to shut them down. Title IX and general alumni anger makes that very challenging.

- Even if you take out the difference in colleges, you also can't ignore the difference in actual players. Once you try to come up with a "fair" wage, where does it end? Should Johnny Manziel make more than A&M's 6th string, walk on WR? A "fair" wage would say Manziel is more valuable, but are we really saying he shoudl be paid more? In the Pro's you can obviously do that, but once you open the can of worms of a "salary" are players now expected to negotiate their own wages?

- There are enough seedy people hanging around college athletics as it is. Once you start introducing real money into the game, that will just mean more agents, more hanger-ons, more gold diggers hanging around. We always hear about these pitfalls of kids coming into big money and something bad happening... Now we're going to dial that back to high school?

I just don't see a way to make paying athletes fair across the board. Revenue numbers across schools are just so varied. There is no "revenue share" (can you imagine Texas wanting that?) and the "cost" of providing scholarships and funding non-revenue sports is just all over the map.

If athletes are barred from pursuing additional employment due to team or NCAA regulations, they should get some kind of additional stipend. Not because of any particular sport they participate in, but because one of the rules of accepting their full-ride scholarship removes a traditional way for them to help support themselves.

It should be per quarter/semester, depending on whether they're kept from working just for the season, or longer, or year-round. I had employees in the past on NCAA full ride (for rowing) and they only worked in the summer and during winter break- their coaches banned them from working during competition seasons, and crew is a two-season sport. I don't think that should be any different from football (especially since UW crew is way more prestigious than football )

Then it isn't about program income or which sport you play, just about compensating for additional restrictions/requirements some programs have in place for a full scholarship.

No, they should not be paid. If you pay Group A, then Groups B-K also must get paid evenly. Pay the football players? Ok, pay the women's basketball team, the lacrosse players, and crew members.

I would say the coaches get paid obscene amounts of money in the bigger schools, maybe there's something the coaches should be allowed to do and not end up penalizing a player who he helps or even buys a hamburger for the kid.

psu_13 wrote:
I think athletics should be taken out of college and there should be actual lower level development leagues where the players go instead. And get paid.

ala this article:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000...

Agreed. The big business sports at the college level are more disruptive to the higher education system in general than they are beneficial, as far as what I have seen and read.

Guys. You cannot divorce the teams from the colleges. The reason my family lives and dies with the Aggies is because we went to school at Texas A&M.

Granted, there are thousands of fans of Alabama, the longhorns, etc. who have no alumni tie to the teams. But you can't remove that part of their identity and just make them minor league teams. For one thing, US sports fans don't care about minor leagues, by and large. We care about the Bigs. We also don't care about non-college youth teams, like AAU basketball or the Team USA U20 teams for hockey, soccer, etc. None of those people are on TV - for a reason.

This is a good conversation to have, but let's not waste our time with this divorce idea. I haven't even gotten into the logistics - where are these teams going to play? Practice? Work out? If you're removing them from ties to a university, then they're not using the facilities at those schools, are they?

Now, if someone has a workable answer, let's hear it! But can we avoid speculation that we know is impractical and never going to happen?

Not to mention: which universities are going to step up and be the first to give up their teams? Universities hold on to money-losing athletic departments because they feel it does exactly what Fed said, it connects alumni (and their money) to the university long after they've left. The universities are relying on the net benefits in alumni giving outweighing the costs.

I've not seen any economic studies of whether this works out or not, though. In the case of the big places, there can be a correlation between overall giving and on-field success (which is sort of screwed up). But, what of the poorer, lower-tier state schools? Also, remember that even Div. III schools have teams, which can't possibly make money. Those are there as much for student life and recruiting reasons. So, all in all, sports teams are incredibly intertwined in the life of a college or university.

If firesloth and I can agree after a contentious 2012 season/Heisman race, y'all can just take it as gospel.

firesloth wrote:
Not to mention: which universities are going to step up and be the first to give up their teams? Universities hold on to money-losing athletic departments because they feel it does exactly what Fed said, it connects alumni (and their money) to the university long after they've left. The universities are relying on the net benefits in alumni giving outweighing the costs.

This. Athletics aren't the huge money maker some people think. Even college football.

The ~$30-50 million that a top 10 football program brings in is a drop in the bucket of a university with a $1 billion+ endowment.

The prestige of the program, and that connection to alumni, however, brings in far more in terms of donations than the program itself grosses.

Also, if you start paying football players, the money would come directly out of the budgets of the sports programs that do not bring in money (swimming, et al). Those sports would be eliminated. It isn't like the colleges would make the decision to make less money.

If the NCAA has a rule to keep them from working and the chops to enforce it, then they should be able to mandate a living stipend to the players being part of the scholarships and force the schools to follow suit, without letting them use the weasel of taking it out of the budget of the other sports which are also covered by their umbrella.

And not just football, any athlete who is going to school on a scholarship with similar restrictions should get that stipend. If that sport doesn't have the restriction, then that's different.

Farscry wrote:
psu_13 wrote:
I think athletics should be taken out of college and there should be actual lower level development leagues where the players go instead. And get paid.

ala this article:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000...

Agreed. The big business sports at the college level are more disruptive to the higher education system in general than they are beneficial, as far as what I have seen and read.

I also disagree with the last part of the sentence. Cal, Stanfurd, Vanderbilt, UNC, Michigan, Duke, UCLA, USC, Northwestern, Notre Dame, UVA all play FBS football and are top academic insitutions, and 5 of them ended up in the final top 25 poll. Most of those schools also excel in the annual Directors Cup that takes into account all NCAA atlhetics. Every Ivy League school plays D1A basketball. I can't speak for other schools, but for every crazy Cal fan like myself, there are 20 Cal alumni that have never set foot near the stadium. There are people like me who wish Athletics mattered MORE to a school like Cal than it currently does. No reason an institution shouldnt' strive to be great at both academics and athletics.

Carlbear95 wrote:
Farscry wrote:
psu_13 wrote:
I think athletics should be taken out of college and there should be actual lower level development leagues where the players go instead. And get paid.

ala this article:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000...

Agreed. The big business sports at the college level are more disruptive to the higher education system in general than they are beneficial, as far as what I have seen and read.

I also disagree with the last part of the sentence. Cal, Stanfurd, Vanderbilt, UNC, Michigan, Duke, UCLA, USC, Northwestern, Notre Dame, UVA all play FBS football and are top academic insitutions, and 5 of them ended up in the final top 25 poll. Most of those schools also excel in the annual Directors Cup that takes into account all NCAA atlhetics. Every Ivy League school plays D1A basketball. I can't speak for other schools, but for every crazy Cal fan like myself, there are 20 Cal alumni that have never set foot near the stadium. There are people like me who wish Athletics mattered MORE to a school like Cal than it currently does. No reason an institution shouldnt' strive to be great at both academics and athletics.

Not say this applies to you, but I would argue that, in general, the ones involved in the top level academic programs are not the ones who are playing football.

Carlbear95 wrote:
I can't speak for other schools, but for every crazy Cal fan like myself, there are 20 Cal alumni that have never set foot near the stadium. There are people like me who wish Athletics mattered MORE to a school like Cal than it currently does.
in case we didn't already know Cal was the anti-Bama.

I have no problem with making sure that athletes get all their necessary expenses covered, btw, if we're just talking about tweaking the numbers. I don't think you can divorce teams from universities, nor make athletes employees. And Congress will basically keep the status quo because:

1) Voters
2) Congresspeople overwhelmingly are college grads
3) See 1.

Nevin73 wrote:
Carlbear95 wrote:
Farscry wrote:
psu_13 wrote:
I think athletics should be taken out of college and there should be actual lower level development leagues where the players go instead. And get paid.

ala this article:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000...

Agreed. The big business sports at the college level are more disruptive to the higher education system in general than they are beneficial, as far as what I have seen and read.

I also disagree with the last part of the sentence. Cal, Stanfurd, Vanderbilt, UNC, Michigan, Duke, UCLA, USC, Northwestern, Notre Dame, UVA all play FBS football and are top academic insitutions, and 5 of them ended up in the final top 25 poll. Most of those schools also excel in the annual Directors Cup that takes into account all NCAA atlhetics. Every Ivy League school plays D1A basketball. I can't speak for other schools, but for every crazy Cal fan like myself, there are 20 Cal alumni that have never set foot near the stadium. There are people like me who wish Athletics mattered MORE to a school like Cal than it currently does. No reason an institution shouldnt' strive to be great at both academics and athletics.

Not say this applies to you, but I would argue that, in general, the ones involved in the top level academic programs are not the ones who are playing football.

Probably not, but a lot of those that are involved are watching and enjoying football. Taking away a handful of athletes that may not have gotten in except for football won't suddenly turn [insert jock school here] into Harvard.