Paying College Athletes Is Possible, If the NCAA System Gets Broken (Or Fixed)

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Paying College Athletes Is Possible, If the NCAA System Gets Broken (Or Fixed)
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In the last few weeks, Yahoo! Sports published an investigation alleging that five SEC football players—including a member of the 2011 and 2012 Alabama Crimson Tide national championship teams now in the NFL—accepted money and gifts from agents.

Sports Illustrated produced a five-part series about impropriety involving payment and academic fraud at Oklahoma State University. Time, meanwhile, distributed an article framed around Texas A&M star Johnny Manziel and his alleged autograph business called, "It's Time to Pay College Athletes."

Paying players has never been a hotter topic. There are a few really simple ways it can be done. First, we have to break the NCAA. The rest is easy.

This slideshow is an attempt to explain and simplify the issues. It finishes with five payment plans for athletes, not all of which I believe in. You can skip ahead to those if you're solution-focused.

The bigger the business of college sports gets, the wider the chasm between the haves (the coaches, schools, conferences and media partners) and the have-nots (the players) becomes.

There was a time in college sports when the value of a scholarship was enough to offer a college athlete in exchange for his or her time on the athletic field.

A free or discounted education that included room and board and access to academic advantages not available to the regular student body, like preferential class enrollment, free books, private tutors and an on-staff doctor and trainer for any health issues, as well as free meals, shoes and apparel, can be a rather impressive annual haul for a college student-athlete.

At some schools, that list of benefits could exceed $50,000 to $60,000 per year for up to five years. For example, according to U.S. News & World Report, the University of Michigan costs more than $39,000 per year just for tuition and fees for an out-of-state student. Add in the cost of living, food, clothing and other benefits, and for most student-athletes, it is still a deal worth making.

Contrary to a growing belief on this topic, college athletes are not slaves. They are not, in most cases, being exploited.

There are, however, some cases in which the system is unfair to college athletes, and the schools, conferences, NCAA and media partners do conspire against these amateur athletes for their collective gain.

The student-athletes are handed the same deal year after year—with slight inflation or cost-of-living increases—while the NCAA juggernaut rakes in billions upon billions of dollars to spread throughout the coffers of a broken, corrupt system.

Can anyone blame an athlete for trying to cash in a little?

The debate of whether college athletes should be paid a small stipend or a six-figure salary with a 401k, a company car and health benefits for participation in intercollegiate sports is long, heated and extremely nuanced.

So now, on to discussing the issues at hand while offering—and debunking—some suggestions on how student-athletes can get a larger piece of the pie.

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