Imagine putting in long hours at your job, and not getting paid for the value you create for that company you work for. Along with this, imagine your managers and other superiors basking in the rewards that come from your hard work. Well, this is what is happening to college athletes today and has been happening for over a century. College athletes are at the mercy of the National Collegiate Athletic Association or the NCAA and it is time that they get fairly compensated for the value they create for their universities. In this speech, I will focus on college football and basketball, the two big moneymakers for the NCAA. I will share with you the history of the NCAA, the problems that arise from the NCAA’s regulations, and my solutions to fixing the collegiate sports environment.
First, here’s a brief history of the NCAA. According to the Tennessee Journal of Business Law in an article about college athletics, the NCAA was formed in 1906 in response to a growing number of injuries and deaths among college football players that spawned from both a lack of protective rules in the game and a failure to enforce the rules that were in place. This was the perfect timing for the NCAA form as a golden age of college sports began in the early 1900’s and college athletics became a national obsession. With the huge rise in collegiate sports, especially college football, the NCAA saw this as an opportunity to enforce powerful regulations that would ensure their power over the collegiate sports environment. According to an article titled “All Play No Pay” by Jack Winters Bolesta from the Maryland Law Review, during the mid 1900’s the NCAA became an economic cartel, setting firm prices on the inputs of compensation of student-athletes, limiting recruiting efforts including advertising to attract recruits, and restricting output by fixing the amount of seasons each athlete could play.
Now, some people may argue that the scholarship that they student athlete gets when deciding to go to school to play sports is enough compensation. For those of you that don’t know, a full time scholarship covers free tuition, free room and board, and no college fees.. At Penn State for the Fall 2014/Spring 2015 year, this would be around $34,000, which is a lot of money. However, according to the NCAA’s filings in 2013, Penn State’s revenues from football were over $52 million. Before the scandal in 2011, revenues were around $66 million. An even bigger number than that is $6 billon, which is what the NCAA made as a whole in 2013. According to the Notre Dame Law Review in an article titled “Sports and Antitrust,” the main argument that the NCAA has to not paying student athletes is that these students are “amateur” athletes and their amateur status doesn’t warrant them compensation.
Not only does the NCAA’s Manual have rules against universities paying student athletes, but there are also rules prohibiting student athletes from earning outside income. Student athletes are first college students just like everyone in this room, and we all have something important in common. That is that we are all broke. Unlike college athletes though, we can go out and get a job. College athletes don’t have that luxury because being an athlete is their full time job. Some choose though to make money off of their reputation as a college athlete, but because of the NCAA, this is illegal. Every year, there are college athletes that get caught selling autographed merchandise and memorabilia and as a result, the athlete gets suspended and in some extreme cases, the athlete gets expelled. According to a study conducted by ESPN.com, 31% of former student athletes claimed to have take part in illegal activities of selling merchandise or memorabilia. While this is happening, universities all across the country are selling the jerseys of their student of their most known student athletes and they are receiving $0 from these sales. Some student athletes are living in poverty while they are not allowed to make any money off playing for their school while their school makes millions.
According to the Journal of Negro Education, from interviews with former Division I football and basketball student athletes, many people felt as if they were “used goods”. Collegiate sports open many doors for student athletes, but because of NCAA and the universities that are apart of the NCAA, the student athlete’s development is being hindered. In the interviews that were conducted, many student athletes claimed that the universities they attended didn’t emphasize the importance of their education as much as they did their athletic performance. The overwhelming majority of student athletes do not make it to professional sports after college and after 4 years of being a student athlete, many of them graduate with a degree in an unimportant field or a field they are not interested in. The student athletes that do go pro often leave school too early to go make the big bucks and forego their college degree. When their time as a professional athlete is over, many of them don’t have a college degree to fall back on and don’t know what to do with the millions of dollars they have to their name.
So, I have told you about some of the problems that arise from the NCAA’s regulations, now I want to propose to you my solution. Obviously the main part of my proposed solution is that you pay the athletes! I propose that each athlete be paid a certain amount of money a year and the amount should be different for every sport depending on how much that sport makes for the university. Every student athlete, from football to golf should get paid. Along with this, for the more popular sports like football and basketball, I propose the NCAA to allow for student athlete unions to be formed to look out for the student athletes and to fight for them whenever they feel that the NCAA is unfairly mistreating them. Also, I think the NCAA needs to put programs in place that teach student athletes how to manage their financials because the ones that go pro, don’t know how to manage their millions.