One of the hottest topics in sports for decades is whether or not student athletes should paid because of the massive amounts of money being made by the schools that they play for.
The University of Kentucky once again led the nation in attendance at college basketball games with an average of 23,361 people filing into Rupp Arena to watch John Calipari and his roster of future NBA players run rampant over their SEC opponents.
Business Insider reports that Kentucky ranks 14th in the nation with an annual income of $116.5 million from their athletics.
However, none of the athletes receive a penny from any merchandise sold that bears their name nor from the ticket revenue from the hundreds of thousands of fans that pay to watch them play every week.
The University of Massachusetts Lowell in partnership with The Washington Post held a recent survey where they asked people if they believe that college football and basketball players deserve to paid in addition to receiving scholarships based on how much money they generate for universities, or if scholarships are adequate compensation.
Here are some key points of interest from the survey:
- 52 percent believe that scholarships are adequate compensation compared to just 38 percent who believe college athletes should be compensated based on the revenue generated for their schools. 10 percent of respondents indicated that they were uncertain.
- 54 percent of African-Americans support players being paid compared to just 31 percent of white respondents.
- 66 percent of Americans support paying college athletes when their name or image is used in video games or to sell merchandise.
The main issue when it comes to this topic is that if you’re going to pay basketball and football players then you have to pay the lacrosse and swim team too; even though 23,000 people don’t pay top dollar to see them play.
The other issue is that just because a school like Kentucky could probably afford to break off a few bucks for their basketball and football players it doesn’t mean the likes of Eastern Kentucky or Morehead State could afford it too.
According to the Umass Lowell study, it appears as though the majority of people feel that scholarships represent adequate compensation for college athletes but not when it comes to the specific question of name, image, and likeness where there is strong support for compensating student athletes.
Former UCLA and NBA player Ed O’Bannon has famously challenged the NCAA in court over the use of his image which is why there hasn’t been an updated versions of EA Sports NCAA football since 2013 or NCAA basketball since 2010.
Where does it all end?
One suggestion to bring to the table is for each conference to provide an equal amount of financial compensation for student athletes who have graduated and completed all four years of their education at one particular school.
For example, Kentucky’s Derek Willis was a four-year player for the Wildcats who graduated in May. He should have some sort of financial compensation provided to him following graduation for perhaps a down payment on a home or some money to start up a business.
I’m not talking about millions of dollars but perhaps something in the range of $50,000 to help give him that little push forward in life.
If you don’t graduate, you don’t get a penny.
But if you do graduate there should be some financial compensation for these players.
The only way it’s ever going to happen is if the players themselves force the issue.
Can you imagine what would happen if both the Kentucky and Tennessee basketball players made some form or protest on Feb 6 while their game is being aired live on ESPN.
Or perhaps if the entire Alabama and Auburn football teams just walked out onto the field and sat down for three-hours and refused to play the Iron Bowl while CBS broadcasted it on live TV.
The current political climate in the United States is basically forcing the majority of the population to become more politically active and it’s only a matter of time before some sort of attention shifts towards the NCAA.
The great Sam Cooke said, “It’s been a long time coming but I know a change is gonna come.”