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Reasons Why College Athletes Should Be Paid

Kestone is a qualified teacher and Writer at the same time.He is also an ongoing masters student at mount Kenya University.

Abstract, Introduction and Background Information


As the National College Athletic Association abbreviated as (NCAA) remains unwilling to address the proposal for it to pay the college students, the players have stayed committed to pushing for monetary compensation. The paper introduces the argument on whether to pay the college athletes by pointing out the key areas that it intends to discuss. It provides the background information to assist in the full understanding of the topic. It gives lengthy arguments on the valid reasons as to why the NCAA should pay the college players. The reasons provided are aimed at criticizing and negatively portraying the institution; through this strategy, the NCAA is left with no choice but to compensate players. It also points out the positive and genuine concerns as to why the NCAA should remain firm and ignore the demand of the college athletes to receive monetary compensation. However, the paper is quick in countering these claims. It concludes by providing a summary of the discussion


The debate on whether college athletes should receive monetary compensation or not is an issue that has elicited lively debate in America. The proponents argue that the NCAA receives a huge sum of money from the efforts of the players hence there is a valid reason for players to receive a salary. They further noted that the full scholarship provided by the NCAA does not cover all student’s needs. They also indicated that the hours that players spend on the pitch are more than enough and should stand to get a salary. The exponents argue that if the institution can pay its coaches hefty salary, the student also need to receive some stipends. They noted that performance of players could only be enhanced through monetary motivation. Conversely, the opposing side has dismissed the above claims by arguing that the full-scholarship caters for everything and it is the best package compensation package for the college athletes. Despite this debate, NCAA has remained adamant and reluctant to listen to pleas of its players. The paper seeks to provide in-depth arguments on the need for the college athletes to be paid salaries or stipends.

Background Information

President Roosevelt founded the NCAA in the year 1905. Among the regulations and policies of this institution was not to offer salary or stipend to college athletes who were involved in its organizations. This sporting body based its argument on the idea of amateurism which was reasonable and appropriate action at that time. However, the NCAA has gone through myriad transformations (Anderson, 2016). The NCAA of the 19th century is quite different to that of the 21st century. Today, the institution makes millions of dollars from the sporting activities. It can comfortably pay its coaches up to $7 million annually. The body has metamorphosed to a profit-making entity other than remaining a non-profit organization. Notably, in spite of these supernormal profits that have been generated by the efforts of the college athletes, the university players do not receive any monetary compensation (Anderson, 2016). Worst to note is that it has barred the players from capitalizing on their status with the aim of making money. The institution argues that it has fully catered for the needs of its players in its full-scholarship program. Currently, the college athletes are agitating for the body to pay them salaries or stipends.

Arguments for paying College Athletes

Spending more time in Sports

As mentioned earlier, there are valid reasons as to why the college athletes need to receive a salary compensation for their engagement in the sporting activities. To begin with, an average full-time American worker who spent between 8 hours a day, then within a week he/she would have spent 40 hours at work. Welch and Marshall (2016) affirmed “The reality is athletes are working full-time jobs for an average wage” (n.p.) Notably, the salary is invariably based on the mentioned accumulative hours. Comparatively, an average NCAA college athletes who play in Division one usually spends between 40 to 90 hours per week during their games (Welch & Marshall, 2016). Owing this revelation, Johson and StudentNation (2014) noted “Division I football players aren’t considered employees and lack basic economic rights under the NCAA’s cartel restrictions” (n.p.). A point to note is that the hours mentioned above are distributed into training, playing and traveling among others. It is a mandatory for the players to attend these sessions, failure to do so; they may be removed from the team and equally lose their full scholarship. Reasonably, if a timeline of 40 hours is the baseline for qualification for a salary, it would be fair, honest and just for these players also to receive a salary. Besides, by denying them compensation in spite of the full engagement in the sporting activities remains unethical in the sense that work is equated with the energy and the time spent (Johson & StudentNation 2014). The college athletes have met all conditions that are requisite for one to receive a salary; therefore, NCAA has no any excuse for denying them their rightful compensation. Jacobs (2015) affirms the above argument by noting “Collegiate student-athletes may spend more than 40 hours a week practicing” (n.p.). With these statement, he argued that they should receive a compensation.

Facing Financial Challenges

The college athletes usually face various financial challenges both at school and during the sporting activities. Although the NCAA argues that it does not need to pay the discussed players because the full scholarship given to them caters to all their needs such as tuition, fees, accommodation, and meals (Glier, 2014). However, it is essential to understand that tuition fees do not cover all the needs of these athletes. Glier (2014) stated “There is a gap between what the athletic scholarship provides and what the actual cost of attendance at college usually demands” (n.p.).For instance, a player who spent about 90 hours a week both in training and studying would be caught in many challenges, one being, the training can end late and they may find if university dining facilities are already closed. In such a scenario, lack of funds would force the player to go hungry. Conversely, if such a player had some amount of money, he/she would have gone to a cafe and ordered for food. Besides, additional costs in sporting are not part and parcel of the scholarship (Anderson, 2016). The costs such as renting or buying of suits to be used during dinner and other important sporting events are not covered by the athletes’ scholarship. In support of these claims, Anderson (2016) argued “There are also additional costs for sports that are not covered by scholarships” (n.p.). Ostensibly, if these players are not paid, where does the NCAA expect them to have the cash for catering for the additional expenses? Worst to note is that most of these athletes come from a low-income family background making them unable to provide for any cost that is excluded in their scholarship.

Salaries would lead to Improved Performance

Prevalently, competitiveness in the sports can only be ascertained when the players are motivated; through motivation, there would be an improvement in the player's performance. The NCAA has continually argued that when athletes are given compensation, then this action would eliminate competition. Such argument is unreasonable and baseless. Taking National Football League (NFL) as cases study, it pays its players based on their worth and performance. As a result of this strategy, their players put much effort on ways of improving their performance so that they receive hefty salaries. The improvement in performance would lead to healthy competition in the sporting activities (Siebold, 2014). According to Siebold (2014), “The harder I play and the better my performance, the more compensation I can receive” (n.p.). Notably, apart from being a celebrity, one of the goals of every player is to receive an excellent package of salary. In light of this information, the NCAA needs to relook at their policies and offer the athletes compensation so that they impart the sporting activities with the competition (Pruitt, 2011). Reasonably, if a player is not paid any remuneration, there would be no compelling reason why he/she should put more effort into the sporting activities. On motivation, Pruitt (2011) pointed “The NCAA could also pay the players based on their merit and performance in the game” (n.p.). Every football fan or spectator would love to watch a competitive and lively game, if paying the athletes would improve the players’ performance leading to competitive sports, then athletes ought to receive pay.

The Benefits made from the Athletes likeness should be extended to them

A point to note is that both the universities have continuously engaged in the selling of the best players’ attires and other merchandise for their financial gains. Most of the universities have capitalized on the success of the team and good players, and as result of this, they have made thousands and millions of dollars through the sale of t-shirts and jerseys that has the favorite players number tagged on the attires. According to Cronin (2017), “During the 2015-16 fiscal year, the NCAA generated about $1 billion in revenue” (n.p.). Notably, what these universities are doing is to auctioning the personhood of the player whose number is on the t-shirt or jersey. The above action is not making any meaningful sense, because why should they make money out of the efforts of the players and find it a challenge when it comes to compensating the athletes (Cronin, 2017). It is only reasonable and fair if the players also gain from these sales. Otherwise, such an actions may be termed as stealing and robbing of the athletes. Consequent to the activity, Tylt (2017) noted “The NCAA pulls in nearly a billion dollars in revenue each year” (n.p.). Surprisingly, the NCAA policies state that college players are not permitted to take advantage of their likeness for marketing reasons or monetary gain. The institution ought to pass the same regulation to its self and the universities. Reasonably, if the athletes are not to benefit from their likeness, then why the third parties should be allowed to gain from the love that people have shown to the players? With this regard, part of the profit that the universities are making from the mentioned sales should be used in paying the college athletes. Interestingly, Kiernan (2016) noted “College sports is the only industry in this country whereby the court system has essentially ruled that competing sellers (universities) of a commercial product (FBS football and D-I men's basketball) are allowed to conspire to suppress the value of the human capital that generates their profits” (n.p.).

If Coaches receives compensation, Athletes should have same treatment

According to Isidore (2016), “The head coaches in the five major college athletic conference’s earn more than their schools spend on all athletic scholarships combined” (n.p.).The coaches for the well-performing teams invariably receive reasonable and better salaries. To be specific, the coaches of the NCAA in most cases earn an average salary of $100,000 annually. The amount mentioned above is quite high compared to their workload, and the exciting part is that the figure above exceeds the amount the government pays to professional teachers who plays an important of imparting the athletes with the academic knowledge (Isidore, 2016).The colossal salary is an explicit indication that there is a lot of money in the sporting activities and it needless to deny the players compensation. On the statistics provided by Fairchild (2013), “… 42 college football coaches earned at least $2 million in 2012” (n.p.).Additionally, if the NCAA can comfortably pay the coaches, then it is hypocritical to refuse to pay its players. Worst to note is that colleges that have a myriad of sports programs, the head coaches receive compensation of millions of dollars. For instance, in the year of 2013, the head coach of Alabama was reported to have made a payment of $5.5 million. With this regards, Evan (2016) stated “College football players deserve to be paid like anyone else can” (n.p.). From a realistic and analytic perspective, if the school and NCAA find it right to pay one individual up to $5 million salary in a year then this is an indication that sport has money and paying players should never an issue.

The Salaries would make College Athletes learn how to be responsible

Prevalently, if the NCAA decides to pay the college Athletes small stipends, this would be an important move in the sense the discussed individuals would start to learn on how to be responsible when it comes to money spending. A point to note is that majority of the students who do have money most of the times always find a challenge when given a significant amount of money. Money management has been a challenge even to most of the celebrities who were guided on how to spent funds. Immediately they start to have the fame and money; they end up misusing the cash (Patterson, 2013). Basing on this background, it would be prudent for the NCAA to pay the college athletes at least some amount, however small it, they would learn how to save and efficient management of money. According to Patterson (2013), “If schools were to begin paying players, they could also help these students build a foundation of financial literacy” (n.p.). On the same note, Keolanui (2014) agrees with Patterson by noting “Players could make just enough money to be forced to make choices that can pave the way for more responsible decision making when the financial stakes become high” (n.p.). Moreover, if the mentioned institution cares about the success and the prosperity of these players, it should go ahead an even hire a professional to train them on effective and efficient ways of management of their financial resources. The above move would be necessary to the future career of these players. Once they moved to the big clubs, they would be in a better position of managing the hefty salaries that their clubs would pay them (Keolanui, 2014).

Arguments against paying the College Athletes

College Athletes agree to signs contracts without the compensation

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Despite the reasons mentioned above why the college athletes should receive payments, there are other weighty arguments as to why both the universities and NCAA have genuine concerns for not giving them compensation. To begin with, before they are fully admitted to the colleges, the players are taken through the documents that outline what they stand to benefit from the scholarship. Interesting to note is that before signing the admission conditions, they are asked if they have fully understood the content of the contract and if they are satisfied by the package in the document. If there is any unclear part, they are given an opportunity to raise, and an appropriate classification is given to them (Klass, 2010). Reasonably, by appending their signatures on the contract is full proof that they have fully concurred with whatever information contained in the documents. Klass (2010) advised “A contract is a legally enforceable obligation one person owes another as the result of a formal act” (p. 27). It is therefore unreasonable and absurd for them to demand any form of payments after signing the contract. To be precise, it unethical demand to request what was not provided for in the contract (Klass, 2010).

Education is more important than Compensation

Another reason for not paying the college athletes is that the free education that they are being given is valuable and more important than any form of monetary compensation. Besides, the primary reason as to why the students enrolled in the college is to acquire the academic knowledge and appropriate skills that are important in solving the life challenges. Furthermore, various universities invest a lot of resources that would ensure that each student is in a better position of being creative and also managing their social lives (Dirlam, 2013). Some of the players who have not undergone through the university education have been unable to cope up with the life challenges, and some have gone through the rehabilitation because of the inability to handle the life challenges. Apart from the above advantage, after completion of their four-year course, they would stand to earn more money in comparison to their colleagues who only attains the high school diploma. Therefore, the attainment of highest academic knowledge would be added an advantage in their sporting careers. Dirlam (2013) supports the above statement by noting "Leaving a four-year college with a degree will help former players earn more money than those who only have a high school diploma, regardless of whether or not they move on to a professional sports career” (n.p.) With the mentioned benefits that one acquires through undergoing the university education, the players ought to be grateful and should demand any compensation (Dirlam, 2013).

Full Scholarship caters for Basic needs

As mentioned earlier, the university provides the college athletes with the bachelor’s degree at the end of their four-year course which will make them competitive in the global market. Apart from this advantage, the universities impart with problem-solving skills which are crucial in their career life. Furthermore, the scholarship provided by the universities caters for the primary needs of the players (Ackerman & Scott, 2016). The students undergoing through this program would not drop out of the college or sent home for fees because the tuition fee is fully covered in the scholarship program. Also, these college students are quite certain that at no given time they would go hungry; this is because the scholarship contract caters for all means. More importantly, they will not be expected to use their cash or pay for the medical expenses because all these have been entirely taken care of by this program. According to Ackerman and Scott (2016), “They (college athletes) receive cost of attendance benefits, meaning their day-to-day needs, such as food, housing, clothing, gas, and trips home, are covered” (1-11) Furthermore, they are the most advantageous students in the sense that they can access all books in the school libraries to assist them to improve their academic performance. According to Johnson (2012), “….a full scholarship over four years can range between $30,000 and $200,000” (n.p.). With these benefits that have been provided in the full scholarship program, it would be impractical for them to still demand compensation. In summarizing the above argument, McCauley (2015) argued “Essentially they receive a free education and in return they represent the school in a certain sport” (n.p.).


From the above discussion, it is clear that there is a need for the college athletes to receive compensation. They invariably spend more than 40 hours per week in engaging in the sporting activities, hence qualified to earn a salary. Also, the full-scholarship does not cater for everything, there are unforeseen expenses, and by the players, they would be able to provide for this kind of expenditure. Besides, the salaries and compensation would play a significant role in motivating the players and further leads to improvement of performance. Moreover, colleges and NCAA makes thousands and millions of dollars from the sale of jersey featuring player personalities, from these sales it fair and just if the athletes also have shared in the profit made from the transactions. Additionally, if the colleges and NCAA can comfortably play the coaches, equity demand that they should likewise pay their players. Above all, if these students are paid, they would learn how to be financially responsible. Importantly, since the reasons to pay the college athletes outweigh the rebuttal, the college athletes should receive compensation.


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