Scholarships aside, should schools pay student-athletes?

Eric Pollitt
Guest Columnist 

It’s the time of year when you hear about the sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars schools make from the NCAA tournament, thanks to student-athletes. This raises the question: Should student-athletes be paid to play because they generate money for universities? Paying student-athletes, in addition to their financial aid package, would not be fair to the rest of the student body and would not be the best use of school funds.

Athletes from any university receive some form of assistance toward tuition. Just about every athlete receives room and board. They have class schedules designed to set them up for maximum success, with personal tutors and assistants. Some may receive money for books.

NCAA rules require a student-athlete’s participation in athletic activities be limited to a maximum of four hours per day and 20 hours per week. Student-athletes cannot work, but they still qualify for Pell Grants.

Student-athletes attending Division I schools on a full scholarship are likely receiving a package between $50,000 and $125,000 per year, according to Jeffery Dorfman of Forbes Magazine. This amount depends on their sport and whether they attend a public or private university. Paying student-athletes to play their favorite sport, in addition to a $50,000 package, would take the student out of student-athlete.

Schools already have students who pay out-of-pocket to play on a club sport. Club sport students do not receive tuition scholarships, room, board, a semester allowance, pay for travel or personal tutoring. Students take time out of their school schedule to practice and play a sport. Some of these students also work part-time jobs. Even so, they still work hard to represent their school.

The academically successful students who earn a 3.5 or 4.0 GPA deserve higher consideration for additional funding than our student-athletes. Funding for Dean’s List students would provide incentive for all students to perform better academically and result in a higher average GPA for the school. It is safe to say Dean’s List students are more likely to find career success and ultimately bring more prestige to the university than the rest of the student body. I see this as a better use of funds for a school in the long run than additional pay for athletes.

The NCAA, universities and student-athletes are all receiving a substantial benefit from collegiate athletics. Student-athletes receive the least amount of benefits out of the three parties, but paying the student-athletes makes them professional athletes paid on behalf of the university. The university needs to consider the rest of its student body and prioritize what its image and prestige is truly about.

Academically successful students are playing by the same rules as everyone else, working tirelessly and not receiving equal opportunity for funding. College tuition is already too high for someone to receive a free ride, play a sport they love and get paid for doing so. Universities are for the promotion of academics, not athletics and an administration’s actions, and budget should reflect that.

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