Sam Burnham, Curator
For the last several years there has been a growing conversation about compensation for college athletes. We hear the explanations of how many millions of dollars players earn for the schools and how they get nothing in return, that this is some modern day plantation where executives are made wealthy on the backs of slaves.
But there are are other considerations that must be made. There are truths that this broad brush approach may whitewash over but that can’t be removed.
1) Not every school is raking it in.
Alabama, Florida State, Southern Cal, Norte Dame, there are schools that are making millions of dollars. A constant supply of money flows in in torrents .
But then there’s another category. Louisiana-Monroe, UAB, Akron, Utah State, these schools get big paydays when they get scheduled to play one of those big names. These big check games make the difference in a school’s athletic budget.
2) This money is spent elsewhere.
Once a decision is made that players are to be paid, all of them have to be paid. Tennis, track, golf, swimming. These sports, including almost all women’s sports at every NCAA school, have expenses that far exceed any revenue they may generate on their own. These sports are typically funded by the money made by the football program.
Thats not a popular fact, but it’s a fact. When it comes to collegiate athletics, Title IX is bankrolled by football. So while it’s easy to look at Alabama or Ohio State and see dollar signs everywhere, you have to consider how Toledo is going to pay their football players, and every other athlete, and still fund their women’s tennis program.
3) The players are paid. Handsomely.
You're 18 years old. You have no post secondary education. You land a job that will cover your housing, your food, much of your healthcare, Grant you admission to a university you have neither the grades nor the test scores to be admitted to otherwise, and you’ll have tutors to assist you with every class, and the position will pay that tuition in full. You have the opportunity to leave with a degree that you don’t owe anyone a dime for. It’ll be paid for. Completely.
How many people can say that? No loans. No student debt. If you factor in a degree from the likes of Duke, Stanford, Norte Dame, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, when you only met the minimum NCAA requirements that’s quite a deal. A degree from one of these schools could set someone back by a couple hundred thousand dollars, easy. Not many 20 year old high school graduates can afford that kind of price tag. But an athlete can.
So don’t listen to the lies that players aren’t paid. Are there some problems with NCAA regulations? Yes, there are some serious ones that need to be addressed. These include the licensing and marketing of a player’s likeness, autograph, etc. And yes, there are more. I suspect we’ll address those further in the future. But for now you can rest assured knowing that your favorite Heisman candidates are getting compensated justly.