To Be Paid or Not To Be

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?   

 

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The Rise of Baker Mayfield

By Ben Klau ’18

College football fans around the country now know the name Baker Mayfield, but where did he come from?  After being a finalist in the past two Heisman races, Baker Mayfield has established himself as one of the top players in the country.

Mayfield grew up in Travis County, Texas. The fifth most populated county in Texas. Football is bigger than life itself in Texas. Being able to play on any good team takes a lot of talent. Although Mayfield has always had immense talent, his size had held him back early in his high school years. His high school coach, Hank Carter, always knew that his talent would shine one day.

“If that Baker Mayfield ever grows,” the coaches said in an interview with NewsOK, “he’d end up being a good player.”

Mayfield hit a big growth spurt going into his junior year. By the time he was a junior, he was the starting varsity quarterback for Lake Travis High School. He then went on to lead his high school to two state championships.

Mayfield started his collegiate career with Texas Tech. He won the starting job in 2013 when Michael Brewer, who had graduated from the same high school as Mayfield, went down with a back injury. Mayfield started off that 2013 season with a bang, passing for 413 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. He tallied 43 completions in that game against SMU which broke a school record held by Billy Joe Tolliver. That performance earned Mayfield the Big 12 offensive player of the week. Little did Mayfield know that was the start to something much bigger.

Mayfield’s season was cut short after injuring his knee on Oct. 5th, 2013. Once he returned to practice, he soon found out that his starting job had been given away. He finished the season with 2,315 yards, 12 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Mayfield earned the Big 12 Freshman Offensive player of the year in 2013. After miscommunication with the coaches and an overall anger with the staff at Texas Tech for giving his job away, Mayfield decided to leave the program.

Mayfield has always had a competitive nature about him. “He’s beyond competitive — I think that’s obvious — and he’s not afraid to say what’s on his mind,” Carter said in an interview with NewsOK. “He’s always been that way.”. That competitive nature lead Mayfield to part ways with Texas Tech and look for new opportunities. This decision would be one that Texas Tech looks back on and wishes they didn’t make.

Mayfield’s next opportunity came at the University of Oklahoma. At first he did not know whether he would continue to play football. Mayfield enrolled in January of 2014, without contacting anyone on the Sooner coaching staff.  Just a month after enrolling, head coach Bob Stoops confirmed that Mayfield would be walking on. After the transfer from Texas Tech, Mayfield was forced to forfeit a year of eligibility as a result of a failed appeal of his transfer restrictions. At the start of the 2015 season, Mayfield was named the starting quarterback after winning the job over Trevor Knight. Mayfield, who has been playing as the underdog for most of his life, showed that trait off to the Sooner fans with his second win of the season over the no. 23 Tennessee. That win showed college fans that Baker Mayfield was the real deal and here to stay. Mayfield finished his first season with 3,700 passing yards, 36 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He also finished fourth in the Heisman race. Mayfield then lead the Sooners into one of the two college playoff games. The Sooners lost 37-17 to a very talented Clemson Tigers team.

Baker Mayfield continued his tear into the 16-17 season. Mayfield along with his top offensive weapon Ded Westbrook, were up for the Heisman Trophy. This time Mayfield cracked the top three finishing third in the race. Mayfield capped off a great season by leading the Sooners to a 35-19 win over Auburn in the Sugar Bowl. Mayfield is projected again to finish atop the Heisman Trophy race. Baker Mayfield looks to continue his reign of terror on defenses in the 17-18 season.

Who will move on? The 2016 College Football Playoffs

By Jack Beck ’18

The final full weekend of the regular season has provided the college football word with a dramatic finish and an interesting situation for the College Football Playoff Selection Committee. With only a few conference championship games left to be played this upcoming weekend, all eyes are pointed towards the Committee and which four teams will ultimately be selected to go to the third annual College Football Playoff.

The current playoff standings are as follows: Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson, Washington, Michigan, Wisconsin, Penn State, Colorado, Oklahoma and the top ten is finished off by Oklahoma State. Below I will go through my predictions for the final College Football Rankings and who will be moving on to the College Football Playoffs.

Alabama (12-0) has been ranked first in the playoff standings all year and nothing should change if they can beat 15th ranked Florida in the SEC championship. Lead by true freshman, Jalen Hurts, Alabama looks to continue their 19 game win streak that has occurred over the past two years. With a win, Alabama will be a lock for the first seed in the 2016 College Football Playoff.

Clemson (11-1) will play 23rd ranked Virginia Tech for the ACC Championship. With Quarterback and Heisman front-runner Deshaun Watson leading the tigers along with many other first round prospects, Clemson is ready to move onto bigger and better things. If Clemson can win this game, which they are heavily favored to do, they will be a lock for the playoffs in my mind should be ranked the second seed. However, there is a chance that with a win they will drop to third rank, but this just depends on the other games.

The final two seeds have sparked discussion and arguments among committee members, sports analysts and passionate fans. Some believe that winning a major conference championship should guarantee a spot in the playoffs, while others think that championship or no championship, if you have the best record against the best teams you should have a spot in the playoffs.

With my third seed, I am going with the Penn State Nittany Lions (10-2). Although they do have two losses this year, I believe that with a win this weekend versus Wisconsin and securing the Big Ten Championship, they deserve to be in this playoff. They are playing their best football right now and arguably the best football in the country. However, if they lose to Wisconsin, then there is a very slim chance they will be considered.

And with the fourth and final seed, I am going with another conference champion with the Washington Huskies (11-1). With a win this weekend against 8 ranked Colorado will have a 4-1 record against top 25 ranked teams, and their one loss came against one of the hottest teams in the country, USC. Washington Quarterback, Jake Browning, is looking to continue his dominance of the College Football world, and further his argument for the Heisman. Similar to Penn State, if Washington loses to Colorado in the Pac-12 Championship, then they will most likely not make the playoffs.

There are other teams who some people say might deserve the playoffs more than any of these four teams. Ohio State, Michigan, Wisconsin, Colorado, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State, the other members of the Top Ten are all being considered for the playoffs.

Ohio State not being in the playoff will cause a big discussion and argument in the sports world. After a win versus Michigan, many people think Ohio State has the resumé to be the playoffs, but don’t forget that they did lose to Penn State 6 weeks ago and was not able to play in the Big Ten Championship.

Although having a great second season with Harbaugh, Michigan just didn’t get enough wins to make the playoffs. They needed to either beat Ohio State this past week, or have beaten Iowa, who they lost to 3 weeks ago.

Colorado (10-2) has a good record and has lost to two ranked teams, which makes them look good to the committee. However, they just haven’t had enough good wins to prove themselves to be a playoff team.

Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are very similar in talent and record, however the Big 12 does not have championship game which has proven to hurt the top teams in their conference.

This year is different than the past few years of the College Football Playoff. There truly are eight teams that are championship caliber teams, which makes this decision even harder for the committee. I, along with all of the other college football fans, hope to see the four best teams rightly chosen for the 2016-2017 College Football Playoffs.