i A Student-Athlete is much more than “Student-Athlete” and here’s why | College Writing: Debate(s) In Higher Education
21. November 2016 · Comments Off · Categories: Blog Post 3

AJ Floodstrand

In today’s society College Sports are vividly popular.  With the increasing financial gains of the media and popularity student athletes are much more than a student-athlete. The ridiculous amounts of revenue from Media deals, video games, and the high salaries coaches the National Collegiate Athletic Association or better known of  the NCAA  is skyrocketing of financial gain. Yet, the athletes who are performing each day are not receiving a penny for their work. Since the NCAA is increasing in the payroll of their coaches, they should do the same with the student-athletes for their work by dropping their strict regulations and compensating student athletes.

Student Athletes should get paid because they are virtually employees of the school. In several Division One programs, many athletes do not even leave the campus during the summer in order to maintain shape, practice and prepare for the following season. According to Marc Edelman’s article “21 Reasons Why Student-Athletes Are Employees And Should Be Allowed To Unionize,” the average Division one football player devotes 43.3 hours per week just on football. That is about  three hours more than a full-time employee and that is not even counting the student athlete’s time to their studies. In John Oliver’s video “The NCAA Last Week Tonight with John Oliver,” Seattle Seahawks all-star cornerback Richard Sherman agreed that having a student-athlete schedule is not easy. Sherman even challenged non-student athletes to have a student athlete’s schedule for a semester to see how hard it is to manage to be a successful student-athlete.  In fact, during road games and tournaments the student-athletes must be flexible with their schedule. During the NCAA’s annual basketball tournament called March Madness student-athletes can miss an exceptional amount of class time. In 2014 the Syracuse Orangemen Men’s basketball team were expected to miss a full seventeen days of classes which accumulated for nearly twenty-four percent of the semester.  Clearly, the NCAA does not accommodate around a student-athlete schedule, but they do accommodate for better TV ratings which at ends equals more sponsorship revenue. 

While the NCAA takes in multi-million dollars through advertising in tournaments such as March Madness and the Bowl Champion Series (BCS) the championship for football, little comes back to help the student athletes. According to the NCAA.org, nearly 81%  of their revenue comes from television and  marketing rights. For the 2012-2013 season, the NCAA was projected to make 702 million dollars just from their new media agreement with CBS Sports and Turner Broadcasting.  If the income revenue is extremely high where is it all going? The pay raises of administration, athletic directors and athletic coaches are definitely in the question of where the revenue is going. Based off  Brent Schrotenboer, Steve Berkowitz and Christopher Schnaar article “Hiring  a College Football Coach is expensive and firing one is too,”  proves that coaches get the high end of the financial bargain. For instance, in the 2016 football season, the University of Michigan head football coach Jim Harbaugh  is expected to earn nine million dollars in this season alone, not including endorsements. In 40 of the 50 states, the highest paid public official is the head coach of a state university’s football or men’s basketball team. That’s not all, depending on how the coach performs in the regular season and postseason, their pay can even be more. For instance, University of Wisconsin’s football team appearance in the 2015 holiday bowl earned head coach Paul Chryst bonus of 100,000 dollars.

It’s no surprise that the NCAA makes a significant amount of money off  Student- Athletes. Throughout Harry Edward’s article “Share the Wealth” directed to the National Collegiate Athletic Association he argues that they should compensate student athletes. In essence, the NCAA makes thousands of dollars off of the student-athletes without a loss of a single penny. Edwards cites a report from 2010 that forecasts by the year 2020 top Division one athletic programs will have budgets exceeding 250 million dollars with only serving about 600 student-athletes. Yet, the Student Athletes have not felt the outcome outside of their sport. In fact, in a 2013 post game interview with University of Connecticut Basketball Star Shabazz Napier stated that at times he doesn’t even know how he will eat the following the day. That isn’t the first time an all-star division one basketball player stated displeasure with the NCAA.  In  John Oliver’s video former the University of Michigan basketball star, Jalen Rose found it complicated to focus on basketball when he didn’t even know if Mother would be financially eligible to have electricity.

Success outside of the classroom in winning means high success for the school. In 1984 when Boston College quarterback  Doug Flutie won the Heisman Trophy the most prized possession in College Football admissions skyrocketed. The admission percentage increased by 25 points and the average SAT by admitting freshman was increased by 110 points. Another example is former Georgetown basketball player  Patrick Ewing  his superior athletic  performance in the 1982-1983 season increased a forty-seven percent rise in undergraduate admission applications and another 40 point rise in SAT scores. Not only does the success of the student-athlete help the coaches, it benefits the entire school financially. Student-Athletes are in essence a part of the admissions marketing team minus the pay.

According to Scott Bordow‘s article “ 4 reasons the NCAA should not pay athletes,”  he believes student-athletes should not be paid because it just creates another restriction problem to the NCAA. However, student athletes are strictly governed by the NCAA of what they can and cannot do because of their signature in a 440-page rule book by the NCAA. Student- Athletes are prohibited from accepting free items, selling their memorabilia or receiving discounts because it must have equality to  a non-student athlete. In 2010 Ohio State University star quarterback Terrelle Pryor and four other teammates were suspended  for five games for violating NCAA regulations. Pryor was  selling his memorabilia and receiving improper benefits on receiving a discount on a tattoo. He commented that he did it so he could help his Mother with finances. With the grueling hours of practice, games, lift sessions and school work it is nearly impossible for them to receive a job and maintain eligibility. How else are the student athletes able to earn money?

So how can the NCAA exactly compensate student athletes? It’s actually quite simple. The NCAA could just let go of their stipulations that got former Ohio State University quarterback in trouble let athletes market themselves. By letting student-athletes market themselves, they would be able to earn money on their own without worrying about how the NCAA will compensate them.  For example, student-athletes would be able to accept promotion deals with companies such as Gatorade, accept free items and sell their memorabilia. This option would limit the NCAA investigations and overall help student athletes get on their feet financially .

Another way the NCAA could compensate Student Athletes would be to compensate them for their earnings on apparel. For instance, student athletes should receive a portion of the revenue if they are a part of the revenue. For example, if a jersey with their name on the back of is on sale in their college’s bookstore, the student-athlete should receive a benefit. While this solution is more complicated, the school could negotiate with the student-athlete prior before selling the item.

It’s clear that student-athletes are much more than a student-athlete. They spend countless hours in the weight room, practice facilities and sacrifice many other obligations. At the end of the day, they help their school become just more than what it’s meant to be. They market their school, help their school financially, give tireless days all for not even a single penny. It’s clear that the NCAA has the finances and capabilities to pay their student athletes so the question is not if the NCAA should pay student athletes but when the NCAA should pay student athletes.

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