I Say No to Pay to Play

17 Jun

Warning: The following post is for sports nerds.  If you seek sports lite, humor, or eye candy please move along to the next post – TSG

I know this is a very polarizing topic and I see the merits of both sides but I tend to align myself with against paying NCAA athletes. Shocked? Surprised? Lol (Alba was) I have wanted to stay away from this topic but since I had to debate this issue in the summer class I am taking (I let my partner choose the topic) I thought it best to share what I came up with. I have worked in intercollegiate athletics and while I understand that student-athletes have huge demands placed on them and must also balance academics the whole idea just is not feasible and here are some brief points to illustrate why:

Non-profit status

Universities are not-for-profit institutions, they are not meant to operate in excess. Any money made must be reinvested back in to the university. Athletic departments must do the same. Additionally, very few athletic departments amass a surplus each year (less than 10 including Texas and Georgia).


College athletes are amateurs and not professionals. The NCAA is very clear in their definition of student-athletes as amateurs. The Principle of Amateurism as listed in the 2010-2011 NCAA Division Manual states: Student-athletes shall be amateurs in an intercollegiate sport, and their participation should be motivated primarily by education and by the physical, mental and social benefits to be derived. Student participation in intercollegiate athletics is an avocation, and student-athletes should be protected from exploitation by professional and commercial enterprises.                                                                                                This means education comes first (I know, we know the truth) and that sport is meant to be a hobby or a supplement to the academic element and not the primary focus. The NCAA has no plans to change their labeling of student-athletes as amateurs anytime soon.


If student athletes are to be paid will they pay (even) less attention to school? What incentive do they have to attend class and perform well in their studies if they are being paid according to their athletic prowess? I think that doing so would reinforce the idea that athletics comes first, which is counter to the NCAA “philosophy.”

Recruitment & Competition

Would recruiting issues increase? With pay to play I can only imagine the amount of transfers increasing with students going to the biggest bidder or the schools with the fattest pockets. Would we see more students following the path of Cam Newton who attended 3 institutions? :-/ Related to recruitment is competition with the same thought that the schools and conferences with the most money get the best players and remain on top. I don’t know about you, but dynasties are not appealing to me.

Funding Sources

Where would this money to pay student-athletes come from? With knowing that the majority of universities and athletic departments do not operate with a surplus amount of money there would need to be a source for payments. However, depending on this source additional funds could be considered extra benefits which are expressly prohibited by the NCAA. [Extra benefits are defined as a special arrangement made by an employee or booster to a student-athlete that is not generally available to other students at the university, aka Terelle Pryor] It was a nice gesture made by Steve Spurrier and several of his fellow SEC coaches to offer to pay their football players a stipend each game but it just can’t happen. It is an extra benefit and other teams and coaches cannot afford to do the same. They all aren’t millionaires after all.


Lastly (cause I could go on and on, lol), inequality would increase between revenue (football and basketball) and non-revenue (track and field, tennis, etc.) producing sports, as well as between the sexes. How much animosity would be created? Would you be okay if you were a wrestler getting paid nothing or a measly amount while the football players get the largest amount? Or what about paying a women’s basketball team with a winning record less than the men’s team with a losing one? Furthermore, would all players on the same team be paid the same amount? Would there be a scale based on position or activity? Should benchwarmers be paid less? It just gets complicated.

Until NCAA regulations change paying college athletes just is not going to happen. And really it’s the NCAA with all its rules and regulations (the Division I manual is 444 pages) that is the problem, not the universities. I think most universities are willing to help their student-athletes but the NCAA does not allow them to do so. Those in charge have to make the appropriate changes and the universities will follow suit.

NCAA President Mark Emmert is listening and agrees that changes need to be made. While he does not agree with paying student-athletes he does believe there should be a cost of attendance increase. Emmert also plans to hold meetings later this summer with university administrators to discuss this situation. I believe this is a step in the right direction. The need for money is there and a cost of attendance or living increase is the most practical solution at this time.

Despite most people being set on their opinions on paying college athletes the good thing is that it is creating discussion and solutions are being proposed. You’ve read my thoughts, so what say you?


Posted by on June 17, 2011 in Robin


Tags: , , ,

2 responses to “I Say No to Pay to Play

  1. Tamblyn

    June 21, 2011 at 4:30 pm

    OMG Robin, you broke this ALL the way down and hit on some of the very things I have preached to people. Let’s throw in the fact that HBCUs and other small institutes will lose their athletic departments due to lack of players. I also try to break down how much money big schools like Tennessee have spent on one player such as my brother. They spend over 1 million dollars on just the academic side for the athletes. This figure was pretty much across the board for the other big SEC schools I visited with him while he was in high school. They don’t hire some random student to tutor these kids they hire retired educators or current educators. ALSO, when they travel the don’t stay in roach motels they stay in the best hotel in the city and hop on planes the same night of the game. I guess people think they sleep and fly for free. I can go on and on like you about the none football side benefits these student athletes have accesses already but that would be an knew blog post 🙂

    I also brought up the issue of other sports. And let’s throw in for the sake of argument the “popular or headlining” players versus the other players. We all know the most popular player will get his pocket padded more than the other players which would open up another can of worms. Okay I’m done 🙂

    • thesportygirlz

      June 28, 2011 at 12:45 pm

      Basically! I didn’t mention it in my post but found a blog from a guy who worked at Arkansas that said football players have access to $17,000 in funds, food, clothing, rent, etc. each year. It just isn’t going to work anytime soon.


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