I recently read articles written by Michael Wilbon and Pat Forde regarding the Pay-for-Play controversy engulfing the NCAA as of late. Wilbon made the case that they should only pay the players that make the most money, usually men's football and basketball teams (and sometimes women's basketball), citing the fact that the NCAA just made $11.3 billion off of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament and the Bowl season for college football.
Forde made the case against Pay-for-Play by stating that most student athletes are students first, and that you can't put a value on the lifelong skills they learn. Unfortunately, both didn't really address the whole issue, they just talked from opposite points.
I think the big hole in Wilbon's argument is that he said only the big, profitable teams should pay their players, but that puts the other student-athletes in a hole. As a scholarship athlete, you're not allowed to accept gifts of cash, memorabilia, or other items. You're not even allowed to hold a job. Now this isn't detrimental to all athletes, as many have parents who have the luxury of sending them cash on a regular basis. But for students like me, whose parents don't have the ability to send money on a consistent basis, money has to come from somewhere to afford basic things such as toiletries or clothes.
These rules don't apply to just the big moneymaking scholarship athletes, but ALL scholarship athletes. If they need to get their car fixed and their parents don't have they money, then they're going to use other means to pay for those repairs.
The holes in Forde's argument are that not all student-athletes going to schools on athletic scholarships value the education that's presented to them. Many of the top, moneymaking athletes in college opt to leave for the pros well before they are slated to graduate. If you look at this past years NBA All-Star teams, only one player from both teams combined actually played all four years he was eligible to play. That player is a man by the name of Tim Duncan. Five players decided to forgo college altogether and enter the pros straight out of high school. I know that's a tiny minority, but not all players are college-material. Derrick Rose needed a stand-in on his SAT just to get into Memphis.
This doesn't apply to all student-athletes, as many college students in general come from well-off families, but that doesn't matter. It's a great way to teach athletes responsibility. Forde suggested they make the teams separate entities from the school if they're paid, but they already are. Many of my school's athletes are separated from the rest of the student body, unless they really try hard to prevent that. Many of the athletes are seen as celebrities and as such, they don't really get a lot of the experiences that many regular students do. So how could being paid be detrimental to the already big disparity between the student and student-athlete.?
The University of Florida, like all schools with athletic programs, reported their expenses and profits from their athletic department for the 2009-10 academic year, and the numbers support why there should be Pay-for-Play. The school paid over $41 million in expenses for their athletic department that year. The football team alone brought in nearly $69 million in revenue.
If you add the over $2 million in revenue from the basketball team, and you have a gross income of over $30 million from just football and basketball. Of course, their other sports went into the red for the year, but when you're profiting enough from just two sports to cover your expenses and have lots of money left over, then the players should see some of that.
Florida has about 500 scholarship athletes attending the school right now. If you give the athletes an average of $10,000 a piece, you're only dishing out about $5 million. Considering the profits, I would say that's well worth it. I wouldn't suggest paying all players the same, but I would say to pay them all.
This formula can be adjusted based off of the school's profits, but either way, if they earn money for the school, they should see a cut of that, no matter how small.
Many people will argue for or against the issue for many years to come. With the amount of corruption and greed involved with the NCAA, we may never see a Pay-for-Play scale implemented. I personally find that it would do a lot of good for deterring the violations we see in college sports. Will it eliminate it? About as much as drug tests eliminate PED use. But will it satisfy some of the college athletes considering taking benefits, absolutely.