By Dennis Berry
There is a growing movement in college sports. This is a movement about money. I am not talking about the formation of super conferences, although that has a lot to do with money. This is about money and student athletes.
I, for one, am against the idea of paying college athletes; but I am open minded enough to look at it from both sides.
"Pay for Play" has become a big topic over the last few months. It is something that the Big 10 has discussed in recent months. There has also been talk from other conferences as well. One big backer of paying college athletes is ESPN's Jay Bilas, whose twitter timeline is full of the topic of paying athletes.
There is some merit to the idea. College athletes, especially those that play basketball and football, generate a lot of money for their schools. They make money from fans going to games and buying school merchandise.
The schools also bring in money from the huge television contracts, like the one between the SEC and ESPN. That two billion dollar deal is nothing compared to the television deal the NCAA made for March Madness. That is a 10 billion dollar deal for the NCAA Division I Basketball Tournament.
The NCAA and schools even make money off of video games, which uses the likeness and skill set of players. The two big series titles are for NCAA Football and NCAA Basketball. The basketball series was discontinued in 2010. In 2009, former UCLA player Ed O'Bannon sued the NCAA over use of his image in DVD's and video games.
So there is plenty of money coming into college sports just from deals that the NCAA and schools have made. So why shouldn't some of that money find its way to the student athletes?
It is hard to believe that college athletes do not get some form of "extra benefits" while in college. You always hear of allegations that players are for sale. The most recent high profile allegation is that of 2010 Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton of Auburn. The allegation being that his services were for sale. There is also the case against the Ohio State football squad. On the college basketball side, Enes Kanter from Turkey, who enrolled at Kentucky, was ruled permanently ineligible for receiving extra benefits while playing in Turkey.
Many say that paying college players would keep them from looking for handouts. I have a hard time believing that. If you pay a player a couple hundred dollars a game, is that going to keep some athletes from looking for more? There will still be people out there that will offer more for an autograph or just to go to their school.
Then comes how much do you pay the athletes? The highest revenue sports that schools have are football and basketball. It's not even close really. So knowing that does that mean basketball and football players deserve to be paid more than a baseball, tennis, or golf player? If you pay them all the same, will basketball and football players be satisfied with that and not look for more?
Would paying college basketball players eliminate the "one and done" players? It would be hard to think that a few hundred dollars a game would be enough to keep a player in school. What is that money compared to the million dollars that they could make by turning pro?
What do student athletes receive right now? Well they receive an athletic scholarship to play sports while in college. That scholarship will take care of many expenses for the athlete. It can include tuition, books, transportation, room and board, plus other expenses. If you add all that up, it comes to thousands of dollars in expenses that they do not have to pay.
Players can prepare themselves for a life outside of basketball if they do not make it to the next level. Over the last few years, with the struggle of the US economy, people have forgotten just how important getting a college education can be. If you get the chance to get it for free, you should take advantage of that opportunity.
The majority of student athletes do not get the chance play professionally in their sport. They are using college athletics to get a better education. They play the sport they love and use it to better themselves for the future.
Student Athletes receive enough benefits from an athletic scholarship; there is no need to add to that.
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