College Athletes Should be Paid: Pro

Chigozirim Nwogu, Staff Writer

Division 1 colleges recruit high school athletes to improve their teams and oftentimes these recruits receive a number of scholarship offers from schools around the country. A few of these young players make an instant impact on that program, a few make an enormous impact that can lasts for years, and some add to the team in another way. One thing all of these athletes have in common, though, is that none of them get paid.

There are multiple reasons why Division 1 college athletes deserve to be paid. First, there is the “one-and-done” rule that exists for college basketball players. This rule, according to ESPN, came into college basketball in 2005 when the NBA, in its collective bargaining agreement “…mandated that draft prospects be at least 19 years old and a year removed from high school.” This means that elite players must either go to college or play overseas. If they play in college they miss an opportunity to earn NBA money. And it is big money. According to Forbes’ Kurt Badenhausen, “The current average NBA salary of $6.2 million for this season is tops across all sports.” Badenhausen goes on to say that the average salary in the NFL is $2.1 million, 2.9 million in the NHL, and 4.4 million in Major League Baseball.

Division one colleges often profit off of their players. According to Jason Belzer, also from Forbes, the University of Alabama made almost $100 million from football in 2015, and seven of their players were drafted the following year bringing even more exposure to the university and football program. In basketball, in 2016, the University of Louisville gained over $41.5 million in earnings. These massive earnings benefit the programs and the schools, but when college stars try to earn money off of their name they are punished. One example of this is when the most popular college quarterback of this decade, Johnny Manziel, was suspended for the first half of a game for accepting money for autographs in his sophomore year of college. You can bet that Texas A&M, Manziel’s school, made more money off of his jersey than Manziel ever could have made from selling some autographs.

The impact players have on their college programs after their college career is underappreciated as well. The thought of a high school player being compared to or filling the shoes of a school legend goes a long way. Star players attract athletes nationwide, which builds the school’s program. A great example of this is the University of Alabama football program. Each year they attract and sign the best of the best high school football players from around the country. Over the last five years, Alabama’s recruiting classes have finished in the top 7 nationally. Some of these recruits star in college and move to the NFL and then they come back to Alabama where they are glorified and admired. Their success inspires the best high school players to come to Alabama, a place where they too can use motivation and desire to one day be in that same position.

Some may say that a Division one scholarship is enough payment to the athletes, that earning a scholarship means free tuition, room, and board. However, one must also think about how the school uses the athlete. In today’s college sports landscape – especially the big money sports of football and basketball – the schools benefit and to enhance this they ask their players to focus more on the sport than schoolwork. D-1 athletes deserve to be paid because of what they bring to the university, not the other way around.