Should college athletes get paid to play? College athletes are already compensated; these athletes receive scholarships for tuition, room and board worth thousands of dollars. Yes, these athletes are STUDENTS first and foremost and being paid to play would contradict their amateurism status. Yet there is nothing amateur about a Division I athlete. With the eruption of social media as well as web and news coverage from signing day throughout their careers, these athletes are far from amateurs.
CBS Sports retains a 13-year contract worth $10.8 billion with NCAA for the television rights to March Madness, a basketball championship tournament, which televises and promotes three weeks of basketball each year. A 4-year deal between ESPN and the BCS (Bowl Championship Series) pays $500 million for rights to televise the FIVE major bowl games each year. The ESPN contract does not include the countless other bowl games played annually. These are only two of the several contracts involving the top two sports in the NCAA. These contracts are enormous because of avid fans that are passionate about watching sports thereby producing a great revenue source for the networks as well as the colleges.
However, these athletic competitions are only viable due to the work that these Division I athletes perform year round in the classroom, weight room, and practice fields. For many of these athletes serious health risks are associated with participation. President Obama recently challenged NCAA Football in regards to Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy; it is safe to say that NFL players are NOT the only athletes susceptible to this terminal disease.
Men’s NCAA Division I football and basketball players should be paid beyond their athletic scholarship. A $3000 stipend per semester/per athlete would be a fraction of the $11 billion television contracts alone. The stipend should be put into a savings fund and made available upon graduation to pay-off student loans as well as provide a significant incentive to graduate.