Pay for Student Athletes
The NCAA for years now has had many strict rules and regulations on student athletes. One of the most controversial of these rules is the issue of whether student athletes should be paid or receive any form of monetary compensation. The NCAA rules committee has stood strong on its stand that athletes who receive scholarships should go to school and should not need any more money to support themselves. But students and some coaches think their rules are to harsh and the NCAA should pay student athletes or let them find ways to make money.
Student athletes right now have no way to receive any money if they are on a scholarship. They cannot hold jobs, or receive money from agents or sports boosters. This rule was put in to protect the athletes from agents and boosters. But if they cannot even hold jobs, how are they to have any spending money? The NCAA has recently tried to alleviate this by allowing students with scholarships to hold jobs that pay a maximum of $2,000 a year. This way students can have enough spending money to go to movies, buy pizza or just have some miscellaneous spending money. But many are opposed to this new rule. Douglas J Lany writes that “the problem is that a $2000 check for a job, even if work is not part of the job description, can’t compete with a $2000 check plus $10,000 in cash.” He is saying that the problem is not the $2,000 job, but the $10,000 dollars the agents will give to athletes as bribes. He says the main problem is not students holding jobs but the agents bribing students. Even by having jobs this will not help the NCAA from sports agents.
Another proposed idea is to directly pay student athletes for playing for the college. This idea has been passed around for years but has always been turned down. During the 1970’s and 80’s, NCAA director Walter Byers wanted to remain status quo. Byers was the only executive director the NCAA ever had. In that capacity he was more responsible than any other person for current policies governing college athletics. He built a reputation as a relentless taskmaster, known for persuasive negotiating skills, creative thinking and attention to detail. Under his leadership, the NCAA became a multimillion industry. Now with his retirement in 1987, he has become the leader in NCAA reform. He claims that universities are making millions promoting their athletic programs, and the student athletes are not reaping any of its benefits. Byers proposed Bill of Rights states 1)Congress would end the NCAA’s right to set arbitrary limits on the value of sports scholarships, which would allow athletes to earn what the market will bear, 2)Athletes could hold jobs during the academic year, which NCAA rules now bar them from doing. This could conceivably allow them to endorse products, just as coaches do, 3)Athletes would be free from NCAA rules restricting their ability to move from one college to another, 4)Players could consult freely with agents in making sports career choices, 5)States would amend their workmen’s compensation laws to require that major colleges universities provide coverage to varsity athletes(Chronicle of Higher Learning, Sep. 20, 1996). He says this will help athletes who do not receive scholarships with money as well as those that do.
But how will paying student athletes affect the economics of the game. Many say that the current format of the NCAA violates the Sherman Act, which is an antitrust law that prevents companies from becoming monopolies. The self proclaimed basic purpose of the NCAA is to maintain intercollegiate athletics as an integral part of the student body and by so doing, retain a clear line of demarcation between intercollegiate athletics and professional sports(Yale Law Journal), according to the NCAA. But the NCAA is the only way for student athletes to display their skills to professional teams and this is why many say this is a monopoly. Many have suggested that the NCAA eligibility rules violate the Sherman Act because they impede athletes in marketing their skills outside of the NCAA which is a way for student athletes to make money.
But no one contends that the NCAA is not a cartel that restrains interstate commerce. The Supreme Court has even held that it is. But Federal Courts considering the legality of NCAA rules under the Sherman Act, have consistently held that the rules do not violate the act because they do not unreasonably restrain commerce. Most of these courts have undertook a rule of reason analysis and concluded that the NCAA rules are on balance, pro-competitive because without them, intercollegiate athletics would not exist. The Supreme Court lent support to this rationale with this statement. “The NCAA seeks to market a particular brand of football-college football. The identification of this “product” with an academic tradition differentiates college football from and makes it more popular than professional sports to which it might otherwise be comparable, such as, for example, minor league baseball. In order to preserve the character and quality of the “product”, athletes must not be paid, must be required to attend class, and the like. And the integrity of the “product” cannot be preserved except by mutual agreement; if an institution adopted such restrictions unilaterally, its effectiveness as a competitor on the playing field might soon be destroyed. Thus, the NCAA plays a vital role in enabling college football to preserve its character, and as a result enables a product to be marketed which might otherwise be unavailable. In performing this role, its actions widen consumer choice- not only the choices available to sports fans but also those available to athletes- and hence can be viewed as pro-competitive”(Yale Law Journal).
The NCAA’s power to enforce its rules has survived attacks brought forth by virtually every party with any conceivable stake in college sports. Plaintiffs to pay college athletes have included NCAA members, student athletes, coaches, team managers, university alumni, players parents and even cheerleaders. They have come to court claiming the NCAA has violated the Sherman Act, not given due process to athletes, violated their freedom of expression and so on. All these cases have lost. The courts upheld the federal court laws in Sherman Act cases saying the NCAA has every right not to pay athletes, bar them from promoting themselves to pro teams and bar them from receiving money from agents.
But should student athletes be paid? That is the moral dilemma the NCAA faces when it thinks of paying student athletes. In my opinion they should pay student athletes to help pay for bills and miscellaneous things. When the NCAA says that by paying athletes there will not by a clear line between pro and amateur athletics, that is not true. When the NCAA pays its athletes it will not be the enormous amount of money the professionals make. It will be just enough to get by. This would only help athletes get enough money to pay for thing like gas, food and just everyday things. If you look at how much colleges make because of its athletes, the athletes should receive some compensation for its work. Take college basketball for example. Most of the bigger college programs make millions each year off it games while its players are not given any thing. Most programs also have endorsement deals with companies like Nike or Reebok. They give each program millions of dollars to make their players wear their clothing and shoes, but while the players are the one’s marketing the apparel, they do not receive any of its benefits. Even the coaches are making millions of dollars off its endorsement deals, while the players are not making any.
College athletes should not be paid the extravagant amount of money that the professionals are paid. They are amateurs and should be treated as so. But small amounts of money to help them through the school year should be allowed. It would be too much to ask of athletes to hold jobs, go to school full-time and play college athletics. By paying them they would help them out greatly. People argue that by paying college athletes, it would blur the line between professional sports and amateur sports. But college athletes would not make the millions like professional athletes. Also by paying them, maybe some would stay in school, and finish their education instead to leaving school early to head for professional sports.
Also what about the athletes that do not receive scholarships. They do not receive any financial help from colleges and have to pay their own way through college. They will most likely have to hold jobs, while playing sports. Colleges earn millions on their sports programs and should help athletes like this who work extra hard to play sports and go to school full time.
Should the NCAA pay it’s athletes? This question has been debated for many years. There are many reasons why they should and shouldn’t pay their athletes, but to me paying their athletes would better benefit the NCAA, the colleges and the student athletes. As stated by the reasons above, the pros outweigh the cons in favor of paying its athletes. The NCAA has been in status quo for too long and its time for a change. Many students now are forgetting about their education and instead only worrying about their how much money they could make if they left college early and went pro. The NCAA should fix this problem by paying its student athletes to play for its program.