With so many opinions out there about pay for play, we might as well have a virtual forum of the nation’s opinionators.
Here’s a Q&A taken from a number of recent columns and blogs:
DP: Should student-athletes be paid?
Josh Folck, Lehigh Valley Express-Times: These are supposed to be amateur athletes. I know it’s hard to grasp that with the constant reports of money being thrown around the college game. But if the NCAA starts issuing payments to athletes, we might as well throw out the term ‘student-athlete’ and replace it with ‘semi-pro.’ ”
DP: That’s an interesting perspective. What do others say?
John Harris, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Pay them.
DP: How much?
Harris: Who knows? But anything is better than what college athletes are currently receiving.
DP: But aren’t the student-athletes in revenue sports receiving an education? Isn’t that worth something?
Reg Henry: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: As much as enlightened coaches encourage education and promote graduation, it is a fact that playing college football is the accepted apprenticeship for a career in the National Football League. If universities were solely about education, they would be solely about education.
DP: Do we have anybody here from outside of Pennsylvania? Bob Kravitz from the Indianapolis Star – what do you think?
Bob Kravitz: As the father of one college student, with another heading to college after this coming year, I am sick and tired of hearing how college athletes get nothing. I’m tired of their sense of entitlement and I’m tired of the politics of victimization.
DP: So you think the NCAA is right to regulate in this area?
Kravitz: The NCAA has a scam going….Athletes should get more money beyond tuition and housing for their services.
DP: Sorry. I didn’t mean to put words in your mouth. But you are saying that the education the athletes receive has real value?
Kravitz: Those of you who have kids who don’t run 4.3 40s or throw a 90-mph fastball know how much things cost. You (and I) know how expensive it is − and Indiana state school tuition is going up more than 5 percent next semester. I’ve seen it here with my daughters’ friends, all of whom live in middle-class/upper-middle-class suburbs. Some of their really smart, gifted friends are not going to college because the parents have hit a rough patch. These scholarship athletes need to be reminded how blessed they are. Their parents won’t have to take out loans. They won’t leave school and still be paying off their own loans years after they graduate, as my wife did until she was 30 years old.
DP: I like where you’re going with this – that the educational benefit is real and that it matters. Jerome Solomon, what do you say to that?
Jerome Solomon, Houston Chronicle: We act as if college football and basketball are pure sports and, worse, as if they have something to do with education. We talk about graduation rates as if we really care or as if the three or four seniors on a basketball team and dozen or so seniors on a football team could actually hurt (or help) a university’s academic standing. Major college football and basketball programs are companies operating under the guise of being part of the education system.
DP: That seems harsh and perhaps a bit overstated. Isn’t it true that student-athletes graduate at a higher rate than various peer groups?
DP: I would like to hear some thoughts on why you all believe student-athletes are not paid. Jay Heater from the Idaho State-Journal – you look like you want to say something?
Jay Heater: College athletics is big business and those who run it reap the rewards. Coaches make millions each year. Those who run the NCAA and bowl games or the NCAA tournament are set for life. Apparently, there is plenty to go around. So why not let the athletes, who are the reason all those people pay admission prices to events, share?
DP: What do you mean by ‘share’?
Heater: I am just suggesting that we allow the free market to determine pay. And, oh, by the way, this money is not coming from any university. No, universities have enough budget problems. Not a dime other than tuition, books and normal living expenses. In the new system, all college athletes would be allowed to take whatever handout from the public they could get. If somebody is willing to donate a SUV to carry an athlete’s bling, so be it.
DP: Jay, that’s an interesting thought. While your approach might solve some problems, might it not create others?
Heater: Sure, there would be the mega-programs flashing big bucks for some of the top stars. Eventually, though, the market would determine the price, and I would imagine it would be far lower than what we might imagine. Those willing to compete would develop a set plan. Those unwilling to compete could drop into the NCAA Division IA Less Corrupt.
DP: Let’s put that idea in the parking lot for the moment. If we assume that compensation needs to be conducted within the university structure, what are the concerns? Kristi Dosh, you write for Forbes and produce a daily blog on college athletics finances. Do you think institutionally based compensation works?
Kristi Dosh: Where is the money going to come from?
DP: What do you mean?
Dosh: If you’re unaware, the NCAA released data showing that only 14 programs are turning a profit without having to rely on institutional support (like student fees or a check cut directly from the university coffers).
DP: Right, I’m familiar with the study. The annual update is coming out soon, and it will contain some interesting information. Are there issues out there besides the general lack of money?
Dosh: Here is the second big problem. Actually, it’s probably the first, but I chose to focus on the issue of finances first. You cannot pay players without invoking Title IX. Safely assuming that any pay-for-play plan would include paying male football and basketball players, you run into huge issues with federal law.
DP: Any other thoughts from the rest of you?
Bob Knight, ESPN: This NCAA that we’re currently involved with is so far out of touch with the integrity of the sport that it’s just amazing.
DP: Coach, it’s always good to hear from you. We’ll wrap it up on that note. Thanks to all of you for your participation.