The latest accusations leveled against University of Miami have shown that there needs to be a major overhaul in college sports. However, paying the athletes is not the solution.
Many people have argued over the past few days that since enough money is changing hands anyway, the players should get a piece of that pie. Well, the players are getting paid—in an education.
Those who believe this is not enough of a benefit have never had to pay back student loans. Four years of college can cost upwards of $100,000 and these players are getting that for free.
Another important factor to remember is that so few players actually do make it to the National Football League. If a player can spend his four or five years playing football and then leave with a degree, they will be set up for their future. This is an opportunity that not everyone receives, and those who do should be grateful.
Proponents of a pay scale for players also argue that it is a need for poor student-athletes to support their families. Since they are not allowed to enter the NFL until three years after high school, they have no opportunity to make money. This is simply untrue.
If money is a necessity, players can join the Canadian Football League or the Arena Football League until they are eligible for the bigtime. Otherwise, they are free to pursue other occupations if they do not feel like college is good enough for them.
More importantly, these latest scandals show that illegal money transfers are not simply out of necessity to support their families. The University of Miami players received sex from prostitutes, entrance to strip clubs, parties on yachts and, in one case, an abortion. The Ohio State University athletes were given cars and free tattoos.
Are these really essentials or are players just abusing their fame?
With a pay-for-play system, it would have to be strictly regulated. Without regulations of a uniform price, the richest schools would get the best players. Compensation would continue to escalate as the bidding for top recruits would get out of control. However, if there was a regulated system, is there any reason to believe schools would not go above and beyond those regulations?
The competitive balance of the NCAA is not ideal. With coaches and athletic directors bending and at some points breaking the rules, it is impossible to certify equality. A school with a squeaky-clean record is punished because they are not able to get the best players. Paying the players would not solve any problems.
If schools are breaking the rules now, those same schools are going to continue to break rules. If players are paid, it will not make any of the issues go away.
When steroids were discovered to be a massive problem in baseball, the response was not to start letting everyone use. The response was to do their best to clean up the game. The NCAA might not want to do the work to clean up the sport, but it is the only option if it wants to maintain the integrity of the game.