Should College Athletes Get Paid?

Updated on March 31, 2020
DWince profile image

I graduated from Eastern Illinois University in 2008 with a degree in communications. I am a very big sports fan, except for hockey.

College athletics is multi-billion dollar industry.
College athletics is multi-billion dollar industry. | Source

Until this question is resolved once and for all, the topic will always be raised: Should college athletes be paid? When this topic comes up, the discussion usually centers around the more lucrative sports: men's college basketball and college football. This article will discuss some arguments that have been made both for and against this question.

4 Reasons College Athletes Should Not Be Paid

1. They Are Already on Scholarship

This might be the biggest argument made for not paying players: They are already getting paid! When a player receives an athletic scholarship, he/she already has tuition, on-campus housing, dining hall meals, travel expenses (for away games/competitions), and medical expenses paid for. All of those things combined amount to at least $20,000 every year. Why should they get more money on top of that?

2. They Are Getting National Exposure

Almost all of the games that are played in the bigger conferences are broadcast on national or regional television. If the game isn't on television, it is likely on the radio. With every game being broadcast one way or another, these athletes are getting free exposure to help them possibly get drafted and play in the NFL or NBA, where they will (and should) get paid.

3. They Are Not Professionals

To go along with the end of that last point, these college players are not professionals. They are amateurs playing a game. They can wait a couple of years until they become professionals to make hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars.

4. How Would Paying Players Even Work?

Hypothetically, let's say that the rule changes and collegiate players can receive money to play. There are many questions that arise from this: Do all athletes get the same amount of money across the board? Does the 3rd string quarterback that almost never plays and is on scholarship receive the same amount of money as the star quarterback? Does the male swimmer (the swimming program makes very little money, if any at all) receive the same amount of money as the star quarterback (football is the sport that brings in the most money?). Or is it a "free enterprise" system where each player gets paid a different amount? If each player gets paid a different amount, recruiting almost turns into a bidding war. The bigger schools with more money become even more powerful because they can offer recruits more money than the smaller schools that have less money. A lot of questions and issues will need to be worked out if collegiate players are eligible to be paid.

4 Reasons Collegiate Players Should Be Paid

1. The NCAA Is a Multi-Billion Dollar Industry

The NCAA is making money off of all of these players. The NCAA sells its product (the games) to television and radio networks for millions of dollars. Without these players playing the game, there would not be demand for the networks to purchase the rights to broadcast the games. Coaches are also making millions of dollars. While the NCAA, the coaches, and schools are making money off of the games, the players who are actually playing the game receive nothing.

2. They Contribute to Apparel Sales

Schools get to make all of the money they can by selling apparel to fans. Fans buy jerseys of the team's best player. It is not a coincidence that the jerseys the school sells just happens to have the same number on it that the team's best player wears when playing. While the jersey the team sells does not have the player's name on the back of it, far more fans will buy that jersey over a jersey with a random number on it. The player cannot receive any money for someone buying a replica of his jersey. Some athletes are asked to go to an event where they are required to sign memorabilia. While the school can sell that piece of memorabilia with the player's autograph on it, again, the athlete receives nothing for his own autograph.

3. Incentive to Stay at School

One of the "problems" with college basketball recently is the "1-and-done" rule. This is an NBA rule but has a huge impact on the game of college basketball. The rule states that the player must be at least 1 year out of high school before being eligible to be drafted into the NBA. A lot of college basketball players go to school for just 1 year and then turn pro. If the athletes were already getting paid and they enjoy college, they would probably be less likely to turn pro after 1 year. Having the kids stay in college would be benefit to everyone: The player gets better prepared for the NBA and also later in life outside of basketball by staying in college longer, the school gets more consistent exposure, the NCAA gets to sell a better product with the better players sticking around longer, and the networks benefit from having more viewers watch the better product. Everybody wins!

4. Being an Athlete is a Full-Time Job

Being a college athlete takes up a lot of time. On top of having all of the responsibilities as every other student enrolled at the school, the athlete also has practice or a game every day during the season. Add in traveling for away games, and the student athlete's schedule is very full. While scholarship players do get their meals paid for while they are on the road and also in the on-campus dining halls, often times the athletes are either in practice or studying to have time to visit the dining halls while they are open. Paying the athlete would allow them to have money to go somewhere that is open at all times and get something to eat.

Final Thoughts

While there are good arguments to be made on both sides it is my opinion that college players should not be paid. Collegiate sports and players are very popular. While paying the players probably would not change the popularity in the sports I think it is best to keep everything the way it is.

Should collegiate players be paid?

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    • profile image

      Roy kruger 

      2 years ago

      Major college athletes, particularly division 1, the stars are on scholarship

      , Their play, is a bit-coin, with a mouth peice. Four year degrees are not cheap. Even Nabraska players possess this Nowledge.

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      I agree with everything you said there, paul. It would be interesting to see if college athletes getting paid would affect how fans perceive the sport/games

    • Paul Edmondson profile image

      Paul Edmondson 

      2 years ago from Burlingame, CA

      The NCAA is all about money. Good article by Jay Bilas today. I'm not sure how paying athletes changes how fans perceive the game, but kids are exploited by NCAA.

    • DWince profile imageAUTHOR

      David Wince 

      3 years ago from Villa Grove

      That's awesome, Zach. I'm glad the article was useful. Hope you won your debate!

    • profile image

      zachary scheib 

      3 years ago

      it really helped with my debate


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