NCAA Amateurism
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Sports and Health

NCAA Amateurism

Should student-athletes be paid?

WHAT IT IS

  • Amateurism is an NCAA policy that creates a clear distinction between college sports and professional sports. [Sports Illustrated]

  • Amateurism prevents payment of nearly half a million student-athletes annually. [NCAA]

  • To play, student-athletes must sign legal documentation stating they are "amateurs", that they will not accept any form of payment, and that they will follow all NCAA rules. [PBS]
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  • NCAA president Mark Emmert believes student-athletes are "not professionals" nor "employees"; they are simply "students." [CNN]
  • Student-athletes are subject to an extremely specific set of NCAA rules.
  • These rules have led to awkward issues such as violations for ham sandwiches [The Los Angeles Times], pasta dinners [ESPN], and even cream cheese with their bagels.

WHY IT MATTERS

 

Playing a sport while in college can be equal, if not more stressful than a full-time job. Should student-athletes be contractually compensated for their money-making talents?

PAY TO PLAY

Big bucks

The NCAA makes over $1.06 billion annually [Forbes], a majority coming from Division I basketball (March Madness) and football (the College Football Playoff). Players receive only a fraction of that revenue in scholarships and stipends.

 

 

You need us

Universities need players to help generate revenue. Only 24 of 230 Division I public universities met the NCAA’s benchmark for self-sufficiency in 2013-14. [Sports Illustrated]

 

 

End the corruption

Some believe schools and athletes will continue to take advantage of the system until fairer compromises are reached. [The Grantland]

 

 

Unlikely to ever be paid

As of April 2018, only 1.6% of football and 1.2% basketball move on to professional careers. [NCAA]

LOVE OF THE GAME

Free education

Student-athletes receive a full or partial scholarship that pays for their tuition in exchange for their play. [The New Yorker]

 

 

Benefits

Student-athletes often receive a wide range of amenities such as stipends, academic support, interview coaching, laundry service, and medical care. [NCAA] The range of benefits depends on the college or university. 

 

 

Free publicity

Some argue that the publicity generated around NCAA tournaments is priceless; that the NCAA provides free outlets for the public to know and recognize student-athletes. After college, this can lead to sponsorships, endorsements, and potential professional scouting.

 

 

The lawsuit 

The NCAA reached a settlement in a 2017 class-action lawsuit. The settlement upholds student-athletes right to receive more money toward, if not paid-in-full, the cost of attending a university. [Sports Illustrated]

 

This lawsuit enables the NCAA to stand by its definition of amateurism, while also assisting those they govern.

WHERE WE ARE NOW

  • The FBI is currently investigating at least 20 NCAA college basketball programs to find if college athletes are being paid underground. [NBC News]

  • In 2015, the NCAA introduced stipends, but players still do not feel they are receiving their full worth. [CNN]

  • Read the full list of a student-athletes likelihood to "go pro".

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  • College coaches are among the highest-paid state employees. [The Atlantic]


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THINGS TO THINK ABOUT

  • In 2014, Northwestern University football players attempted to unionize. [The Chicago Tribune]

    • The National Labor Relations Board overruled a regional NLRB decision and said the players could not unionize. [The Washington Post]

  • Are amateurism arguments being made on behalf of these few elite athletes or on behalf of the many more who “go pro” in other fields?

Key Vocabulary