By Albert Ledezma
Should college athletes be paid? Not according to NCAA President Mark Emmert, who said in a video via Twitter March 31 that paying athletes from revenue-producing sports, i.e., basketball and football, would force athletic departments to eliminate other sports programs.
Really, his statement is just a scare tactic and smoke screen. The NCAA doesn’t want a serious conversation about paying student-athletes because it wants to keep all the money it makes off their hard work, and their personal brands, to sell the NCAA Brand.
The NCAA is using the images and dissemination of athletes through sales of tickets, merchandise, and broadcast time.
I think it is long past due that college athletes be paid. This way, under-the-table payments will be eliminated as student-athletes make so much money for their schools and the NCAA.
Currently, some student-athletes do get paid, but in shadowy, illegal ways. For instance, a month ago, ESPN reported an FBI wiretapped conversation between Arizona head basketball coach Sean Miller and Christian Dawkins discussing a $100,000 payment to freshman center Deandre Ayton.
Dawkins is the central figure in the FBI’s probe of corruption in college basketball in the NCAA.
That’s a LOT of money to give a teenager straight out of high school to play in the conference of champions. That amount of money is bait waiting to be bitten and reeled in, and in this case, it’s Miller and Dawkins clenching the fishing pole to see their catch.
As if not being paid is enough, these athletes put their bodies through excruciating workout regimens and diets to stay in top shape to perform at the college level.
According to a CBS article from 2012, men’s college basketball requires about 39.2 hours of work between playing time, working out, and doing other basketball-related activities.
This is about an average work week for the average person. These athletes are essentially employees of their university but don’t receive a paycheck in return.
The NCAA recently reported it had an estimated revenue of $1.1 billion for the 2017 fiscal year. Yes, billion with a “B”. This is an enormous amount for a non-profit organization. And yes, they are a non-profit.
And yet, not a single athlete received a penny; that we know of at least.
Many of these athletes come from urban, low-income areas where their only option is to leave school early and play professionally to help support their families.
The rise of the “one and done” has reached a proportion where talent is leaving the NCAA faster than they are coming in.
Counterparts say athletes are paid through scholarships and receiving a free education, which is entirely false.
The odds of receiving a sports scholarship is minuscule. Only about 2 percent of high school athletes receive one. And they can be scarce depending on the sport.
But if athletes are paid, the distribution of compensation will be unfair. And if one sport gets paid, all the sports would have to.
The best solution to this issue, as CBS reporter Kyle Boone said, is to allow student-athletes to “receive endorsement money and compensation for their own likeness in the open market. In doing so, it would eliminate the argument of whether money is being divvied up fairly; the NCAA would also be taken out of the picture, too, and third-parties willing to pay for their promotional services or endorsement could pay whatever they feel the athlete is worth.”
So, if the NCAA can figure out the best solution where the pay can benefit both the NCAA and the student-athletes, I’m all for it. But until then, it is a shot in the dark and the debate will continue.