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Should College Athletes Get Paid

 
 
Reply Wed 6 Mar, 2013 10:03 am
Increasingly I feel that top college athletes in football and basetball should be paid. In fact, I think that colleges and the NCAA are exploiting these athletes. See the following discussion of this issue.

http://www.cnbc.com/id/100420450/How_College_Athletes_Could_End_Up_Getting_Paid_Like_Pros
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Type: Question • Score: 0 • Views: 1,267 • Replies: 16
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engineer
 
  1  
Reply Wed 6 Mar, 2013 10:23 am
@Advocate,
They are already paid in terms of tuition, tutoring, food and lodging, so the question is should they get cash. I'm ok with a stipend. I'm even ok with a performanced based stipend. I think it would have to be regulated so that rich colleges couldn't buy up all of the talent (instead of most of it like they do today) but otherwise why not? Grad students get stipends and other students can get work/study so there is a precedent.

As for the students being taken advantage of, I'm not so sure. Do major schools make massive dollars off of their athletic programs? Yes, but lesser lights do not. In addition to schooling, food and housing, the schools are providing coaching, conditioning, connections and a platform for the best athletes to prepare for a lucrative career. If we were talking law instead of sports, the students would pay the university for that kind of development.
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Wed 6 Mar, 2013 10:42 am
@Advocate,
I've heard such good arguments from both sides that I can't really make up my mind so I'll be reading along here and probably getting more confused.
engineer
 
  1  
Reply Wed 6 Mar, 2013 11:40 am
@Advocate,
I am in favor of loosening the work restrictions for scholarship athletes. I understand that they don't want alumni giving out fake jobs with big paychecks to attract talent but there should be some way of vetting legitimate jobs so that athletes can also work if they need to. During college, I had a scholarship, I got a small stipend and I worked to make ends meet. Athletes should have the same ability if they need it.
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Advocate
 
  1  
Reply Wed 6 Mar, 2013 04:35 pm
@engineer,
engineer wrote:

They are already paid in terms of tuition, tutoring, food and lodging, so the question is should they get cash. I'm ok with a stipend. I'm even ok with a performanced based stipend. I think it would have to be regulated so that rich colleges couldn't buy up all of the talent (instead of most of it like they do today) but otherwise why not? Grad students get stipends and other students can get work/study so there is a precedent.

As for the students being taken advantage of, I'm not so sure. Do major schools make massive dollars off of their athletic programs? Yes, but lesser lights do not. In addition to schooling, food and housing, the schools are providing coaching, conditioning, connections and a platform for the best athletes to prepare for a lucrative career. If we were talking law instead of sports, the students would pay the university for that kind of development.


I basically agree with you. Regarding your statement about how athletes get tuition, food, and lodging, it reminds me of southern slave owners pointing out how their slaves received food and lodging, as well as some health care.
engineer
 
  1  
Reply Wed 6 Mar, 2013 06:51 pm
@Advocate,
Advocate wrote:

Regarding your statement about how athletes get tuition, food, and lodging, it reminds me of southern slave owners pointing out how their slaves received food and lodging, as well as some health care.

Given that student athletes can walk at any time I don't know that this is a very good analogy.

I spent some more time thinking about this one. I can break down student athletes into several categories and compare what the student gets compared to what the school get and in most cases I see the student ahead.

Case 1) Student in non-profitable sport (This is just about everything but football and occasionally basketball. If you are not a football powerhouse, football loses money also but at least you get national exposure.) The student get an education at a value of $20-$50k/yr depending on the school. The school loses money on the sport.

Case 2) Non-critical athlete in profitable sport. If you are the back-up left tackle, you are not bringing in the fans, but at least you are part of the team. The student gets the basic education at $20-$50k/year including room, board, better than standard medical, nutrition and training guidance. The school get TV contracts, alumni support dollars, ticket sales. It's hard for the student to complain since they aren't the star attraction but there would be no team without the 75% of players who have no chance at going pro.

Case 3) Marquee player. You get the news coverage and ESPN spreads your name and your school name all over airwaves. You're the reason the seats are packed and the bowl game payouts are going to the school. Even at the best schools, we are talking maybe 20% of the players in the profitable programs. You can be the best collegiate tennis player in the world and the school will still lose money on you so we're really just talking football and basketball and basketball really doesn't make that much money unless you are Duke, Kentucky or Indiana. The student (who enters college not yet physically mature enough or skilled enough to get to the pros) gets all of the above plus world class coaching, extensive media coverage orchestrated by the school and preferential access to the NFL and NBA scouting organizations with the full expectation that he will be able to parley that into a high six or seven figure salary even if he is in a position that doesn't get all the glory. The student can also count on having the support players necessary to fully demonstrate his skills. After all, you can be a really great quarterback but without a line you still get sacked all the time. The university gets millions from numerous revenue streams including tickets, TV contracts, bowl payouts, merchandise and alumni donations.

In all three cases I think it's a win-win. The giant football programs are getting lots of money but they are providing a lot of benefits in term of contacts and job placement. They are also subsidizing all of those other sports teams. Soccer, wrestling, gymnastics, crew, etc don't exist without football and basketball unless they tack it on to tuition. I started out more in your camp, but now I think the existing system might not be so bad.
Advocate
 
  1  
Reply Thu 7 Mar, 2013 08:38 pm
@engineer,
You are going off on a couple of tangents. In my opening post, I referred to "top" athletes in football and basketball. These people really sell the tickets to games and bring in the large TV audiences. They are certainly exploited.
engineer
 
  1  
Reply Fri 8 Mar, 2013 05:44 am
@Advocate,
I tried to flesh out the argument by expanding to all athletes, but I covered top athletes in my third entry above. They get a lot from the college in terms of development and promotion. That turns into seven figure salaries. That's not a bad payback on their investment. It's not self evident to me that they get the short end of the stick when you balance what they get compared to what they receive, but I'm willing to listen to an argument.
Advocate
 
  1  
Reply Fri 8 Mar, 2013 10:07 am
@engineer,
engineer wrote:

I tried to flesh out the argument by expanding to all athletes, but I covered top athletes in my third entry above. They get a lot from the college in terms of development and promotion. That turns into seven figure salaries. That's not a bad payback on their investment. It's not self evident to me that they get the short end of the stick when you balance what they get compared to what they receive, but I'm willing to listen to an argument.


I think that colleges have to admit that the vast majority of these top athletes in football and basketball are not student-athletes. They are brought in as, what a Brit friend said, performing apes. As performing apes, they should be compensated for the revenue and other benefits they bring to the college.

In top-college basketball, there is a saying: "one and done." This applies to top basketball players who are certain they will go professional after only one college season. It would be crazy to call one of them a student-athlete.

The University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill) is a fine academically-oriented school. But it was disclosed recently that its large African-American Studies department was conducting a huge scam for the many athletes taking classes. For most of the classes, the students got credit without attending class. For some of the classes, all the student had to do is submit a paper. It was found that the contents of the papers were largely plagiarized material. The department head was forced out and classes are now spot-checked to see whether anyone attends them.
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Fri 8 Mar, 2013 10:19 am
@Advocate,
Advocate wrote:
I think that colleges have to admit that the vast majority of these top athletes in football and basketball are not student-athletes.


are they students in any meaningful way?
Advocate
 
  1  
Reply Fri 8 Mar, 2013 10:23 am
@ehBeth,
Not for the vast majority of them. Football players, for instance, cannot go pro until they are two years out of high school. So the college serves to provide effectively a minor-league team on which they can play.
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engineer
 
  1  
Reply Fri 8 Mar, 2013 06:05 pm
@ehBeth,
ehBeth wrote:

Advocate wrote:
I think that colleges have to admit that the vast majority of these top athletes in football and basketball are not student-athletes.

are they students in any meaningful way?

There are ~66,000 college football players. In 2012, 253 players were drafted into the NFL. The vast, vast majority of football players will never make it to the pros and the only benefit they will ever receive from playing football is the ~200k in college tuition, room and board they receive. If some of them don't choose to take advantage of that that is up to them, but I think the majority do try to get their degrees and for them, that scholarship is a great deal because it is the only deal they are going to ever get. Football Bowl Subdivision teams graduated 70% of their football players.

Advocate wrote:
Football players, for instance, cannot go pro until they are two years out of high school. So the college serves to provide effectively a minor-league team on which they can play.

True, but they also can't go pro because no team will take them. An 18 year old is not big enough, strong enough or experienced enough to make it to the pros. (That is not the case in basketball or baseball.) You might have been a great star on your high school team but until you have grown some more and proven you can play with linemen who average 280 lbs, you are not getting that seven figure contract. College teams are effectively minor league teams, but those potential stars are getting a phenomenal development organization with a proven track record of taking players to the next level. They are getting a national forum to develop and exhibit their skills and they get name recognition that attaches to their schools. So let's try to put a value on that. If you are a budding lawyer you will have to pay $76K/yr to get access to that kind of firepower at Harvard. Getting your medical degree from John Hopkins will cost you ~70k/yr. Being a star at Alabama is probably worth more in starting salary than a law degree from Harvard or a medical degree from John Hopkins but if we call it even, their opportunities are worth around $70k/yr. Not to shabby, especially if the player is not especially gifted academically.
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Fri 8 Mar, 2013 06:10 pm
@engineer,
engineer wrote:
especially if the player is not especially gifted academically.


would most of them get into college if they weren't athletes?
engineer
 
  1  
Reply Fri 8 Mar, 2013 06:21 pm
@ehBeth,
That's an excellent question. I expect most of them could, but perhaps not the same level of school. In my neck of the woods, Duke, UNC, NC State and Wake Forest are all very selective so that B- average and 1000 SAT score is not going to do it but maybe it will if you are athletically gifted. That said, that B- and 1000 will get you into some second tier state schools if you are willing to pay your way.
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Advocate
 
  1  
Reply Sat 9 Mar, 2013 01:40 pm
Once again, my initial post referred to "top" football and basketball athletes.

I remember a few years ago when the U of Maryland basketball team didn't have a single player who had selected an academic major.

Another factor is the very good chance that the players will sustain an injury that will preclude any future in pro athletics. Some players can buy insurance against this, but it costs $30,000 for a policy, which few could afford.
0 Replies
 
neil123
 
  1  
Reply Tue 12 Mar, 2013 04:08 am
@boomerang,
As for the students being taken advantage of, I'm not so sure. Do major schools make massive dollars off of their athletic programs? Yes, but lesser lights do not. In addition to schooling, food and housing,
Advocate
 
  1  
Reply Wed 13 Mar, 2013 03:46 pm
@neil123,
Who said differently?
0 Replies
 
 

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