By Stuart Jones
The long-standing debate of whether NCAA Division I college athletes should be paid has made its way back into the spotlight.
With schools like University of Louisville generating $2,229,652 in profit last year student athletes are asking, “Why am I working for the school’s gain when I receive only a fraction of that profit in scholarships?”
According to the NCAA website in a section entitled “Key Issues” the NCAA said, “Student-athletes are students first and athletes second. They are not university employees who are paid for their labor.”
Arguing that the opportunity of being a student-athlete provides benefits that the general student body does not have, including grants-in-aid, the student-athletes “attribute learning invaluable life skills to being a student-athlete.”
Coaches are speaking up as well, saying that student-athlete scholarships should match those scholarships on the academic level.
“”Human nature,” Roy Williams, Hall of Fame basketball coach at University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, told a USA Today reporter recently, “is those kids are saying, ‘Look at all this money we’re bringing in. And I have to beg, borrow and steal to get an extra meal?'”
From the perspective of the player it’s not something they haven’t considered.
“It may create a certain level of resentment in athletes,” said Gilbert Brown, an alumni Pittsburgh basketball player, and third-leading scorer on a team that won the Big East Conference’s regular-season championship to a USA Today reporter recently. “You put yourself on the line for the success of the program, and it really is sometimes only benefiting one side instead of the person that’s going out there.”
“It’s definitely a conversation in the locker room,” said Nolan Smith, a recent graduate from Duke University and All-American basketball player during an interview with the USA Today recently. “We feel like we’ve paid our dues. We bring a lot into the university, and we might want to see a little more.”
The NCAA argues that the payoff is not as one-sided as some may portray.
“Players get equipment and apparel, complimentary game admissions for family and friends, tutoring and other academic support, among other things,” Mark Emmert, current NCAA president, told a USA Today reporter recently (full article). “It’s grossly unacceptable and inappropriate to pay players, converting them from students to employees.”
Some pay-for-play advocates suggest eliminating nonrevenue sports and paying only football and men’s basketball players because of perceived profitability in those programs.
Only 30 percent of Division I football and 26 percent of Division I men’s basketball programs post revenues over expenses according to the NCAA website.
Due to this controversy with advocates on both sides, some student-athletes are faced with an ethical decision whether or not to take bonuses from agents, or to sign apparel for cash knowing they will not get a profit from their programs.
This debate is not over, but with new president as of this year of the NCAA, it seems that Emmert won’t have student-athletes getting paid under his watch.