By Jackson Lev ’20 and Jake Navarro ’20
A controversial topic revolving around college sports is that collegiate athletes are illegally compensated for their athletic abilities. Recently Rick Pitino, an inductee of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, was fired on account of his staff paying athletes to attend their program.
Many people hold strong opinions on whether or not it is right for collegiate athletes to be paid for their athletic performances. Benny Feuer ’20 is an avid fan of college sports. “College athletes should be paid,” Feuer said. He went on to discuss how only the top-tier players at certain universities deserve to be compensated because they produce money for their schools through advertisements which are being publicised on national television networks. Following this statement, Feuer stated that if certain athletes were being paid, it would only give them more of an incentive to work harder because they will desire a larger salary.
Nevertheless, a number of people disagree with the fact that collegiate athletes should be compensated for their enhanced abilities. Former All-American track star David Cassuto is just one example of someone who disagrees with Feuer’s statements. “College athletes should not be paid,” Cassuto said. “They are getting an education, 99 percent of all collegiate athletes will not go professional in their sport. Keep the emphasis on education.”
The point of many who agree with Cassuto is that the most essential part of attending college is receiving an education. So, if student-athletes obtain a salary, they will not have the incentive to work as hard in the classroom as they do on the field.
Michael Beasley, former college basketball star at Kansas State University, and number two draft choice of the National Basketball Association, expressed his thoughts on this topic. Beasley told a reporter from USA Today Sports, “A lot of us (athletes in general) don’t make it to the professional level, let alone the NBA. So I do think guys should be getting paid. The NCAA is making billions — not just off basketball but off football and soccer — by the way, golf players get paid, tennis players get paid. There are athletes getting paid at the college level. We’re just not one of them.”
While Beasley may be correct in the sense that a number of athletes are being compensated for their abilities and the NCAA is making billions, research shows the majority of colleges would be losing money had they paid their athletes. Business Insider states, “Of the 231 division I schools, 76% make less than $50 million in athletics revenue. If we take it a step further, a little under half of the Division I schools (44%) make less than $20 million.”
Ultimately, this is the biggest issue with paying college athletes; if the college pays one athlete, they will be obligated to pay every athlete. Another issue that would be involved is paying both genders; if a college compensates the men’s basketball team, they must also compensate the women’s team. Lastly, it’s controversial enough to ask a big time program such as UCONN to compensate their athletes, but to ask a small school like Seton Hall, whom makes a fraction of what the average division I school brings in, that is unethical.
Although Business Insider believes that it’s unfair to ask smaller colleges which bring in less of an income than larger schools to supply their athletes with a salary, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, a member of the NBA Hall of Fame and UCLA alumni basketball team from 1966-1969, shares his experiences and thoughts on why college athletes should earn a salary. “Despite the hours I put in every day, practicing, learning plays, and traveling around the country to play games, and despite the millions of dollars our team generated for UCLA—both in cash and in recruiting students to attend the university—I was always too broke to do much but study, practice, and play,”
Abdul-Jabbar told Diana Ozemebhoya Eromosele a reporter for the Root. He thinks college programs are inconsiderate for not rewarding their players for the hard work and money they bring in for the school. Abdul-Jabar holds this opinion because some of these scholars struggle to put food on the table for themselves and their families due to a lack of wealth.
Jeffrey Dorfman, a reporter and writer for Forbes, has researched and grasped a good understanding of why college athletes should not be paid. He states, “A student athlete at a major conference school on full scholarship is likely receiving a package of education, room, board, and coaching/training worth between $50,000 and $125,000 per year depending on their sport and whether they attend a public or private university.” Dorfman has found that college athletes are getting scholarships of a minimum of $50,000. He thinks that these scholarships are their compensation for the hard work and dedication they put in and if they are receiving a free education and textbooks, why would they need an additional salary?