Rock: Maybe NCAA Players Should Get Paid
California has really caused some trouble for the NCAA, and I'm just not sure how I feel about it. I do believe that college sports should be played for the love of the game. That being said, money was inserted into this story decades ago.
As a student at Syracuse University, I was lucky enough to be a member of the wrestling team. Let me be clear, I was a total scrub. I had no business being on the same mat as most of these other guys (some of whom became NCAA National Champions and were members of Team USA in the Olympics). But there I was, doing my best to be the Rudy of the Syracuse Orangemen.
I saw firsthand the commitment it takes to compete at that level of sports, and it is anything but easy. While many kids in college work part-time jobs to pay for incidentals, it would be virtually impossible for an NCAA Division 1 athlete to hold down a part-time job, compete on a team, hold a full schedule of classes and find time to eat and sleep. It's just not realistic.
Meanwhile, there's not a shortage of money. The NCAA brought in a cool one billion (with a "b") dollars in revenue last year with profits of around twenty-seven million dollars. College athletics is big business. A college football or basketball coach at a big-time school measures his paycheck in the millions. So, why shouldn't a college athlete bringing in that kind of revenue to his/her school get a little cut of that money? It's their name and number on the back of the jersey and their likeness in the video games.
On the flip side, the student-athletes do get a MAJOR perk in the form of scholarship money. There's no doubt about that. There aren't too many things that can give you a bigger advantage in life than free college. Many athletes, however, come from homes that could never afford tuition. While getting the tuition paid for is super nice, it doesn’t mean they’ll be able to afford a lot of the other things that go along with college.
There may be something to be said for athletes getting a stipend to pay for things like pizza and activities that aren't covered by tuition, room and board. They work hard for the school, bringing in real revenue. Is it wrong for them to have a few extra bucks for incidentals? Almost none of these players will ever make a dime playing professional sports. If they can make a modest sum while in college, would that be horrible?
The new California law really grays the line between work and recreational sports, suggesting that it is illegal to have players earning money for the university without offering them a paycheck.
It remains to be seen what all of the unintended consequences will be from this California law. Some say that it will give California schools a major advantage. Why wouldn't a player choose a California school over another school where they won't get paid? However, there is a chance that the NCAA may disqualify the schools that are paying their athletes. This has been a long-standing cardinal sin in the NCAA. It's probably the worst rule to break in NCAA sports. Some players may be worried about committing to a school that could be kicked out of the NCAA.
One thing is for sure: this California law is going to cause major shakeups in collegiate sports that could change the NCAA forever.