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Should student-athletes make money?

NCAA Amateurism and student welfare

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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." [PBS]
  • 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, pasta dinners, and even cream cheese with their bagels. [The Los Angeles Times], [ESPN]

WHY IT MATTERS

 

CIVICS: With California passing state legislation allowing student athletes to be compensated for their play, it directly challenges a national policy by the NCAA. Has California exercised state power appropriately? Will the national organization separate their rules for one state? 

 

SOCIAL: Playing a sport while in college can be equal to, if not more stressful than, a full-time job. Should student-athletes benefit financially for their talents being used by their college or university, or is academics enough?

MAKE MONEY

Big bucks

The NCAA makes over $1.06 billion annually, a majority coming from Division I basketball (March Madness) and football (the College Football Playoff). [Forbes]

 

Players receive only a fraction of that revenue in scholarships and stipends.

 

 

You need us

Only 24 of 230 Division I public universities met the NCAA’s benchmark for self-sufficiency in 2013-14. [Sports Illustrated]

 

Those that support student payment argue that universities need players to help generate revenue; that student-athletes should receive compensation for their money-making abilities.

 

 

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]

 

Those that support paying student-athletes advocate that students should make money while they can.

KEEP MONEY OUT

Free education

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

 

 

Benefits

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

 

In 2015, the NCAA introduced stipends for athletes. [The Aspen Institute]

 

 

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. [Washington Post/UMass Lowell 2017 Poll]

 

 

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

  • Sep 2019: California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into state law the Fair Pay to Play that college athletes can receive deals endorsement deals. [The Los Angeles Times] Read his thoughts on why college athletes should be paid here.

  • More than 25 states are now considering similar legislative actions. [ESPN]

  • Oct 2019: NCAA has voted to begin considering letting college athletes “benefit from the use of their name, image, and likeness.” [NPR

  • Feb 2020: U.S. Senate committee heard arguments for setting a national standard. [ESPN]

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THINGS TO THINK ABOUT

  • College coaches are among the highest-paid state employees. [The Atlantic] How does this play into the narrative surrounding the college admissions scandal

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

  • Some sports bring in more money than others. If amateurism ends, would players be paid on the money brought in? How would that factor into arguments on equal pay?

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