Not Paying College Players Is Not the Problem, Greed Is

Kyle ZALLContributor IIIAugust 21, 2011

With big time college football programs such as USC, Ohio State, and Miami making headlines over the past few years about impermissible benefits being given to athletes, a hot debate has developed. This debate centers on whether or not the whole amateur system needs to be revamped and if college athletes should be paid for their services to the university or not. You can’t escape this issue, whether you follow Jay Bilas on twitter and see his rants or if you listen to sports radio, everyone with any voice at all is talking about this.

But that doesn’t mean it is a valid debate or even has a difficult answer. Stop kidding yourself, pay for play would not help.  Not even a little bit.

Perhaps the most popular point that is made on this topic is the ridiculous amount of revenue that is brought in by these athletes at big time programs. The television money and sold-out stadiums lead to administrators and coaches getting paid like royalty, why shouldn’t the players get a cut of this?

Go ahead, take a minute and pull your head out of the sand, they don’t get paid because they are amateurs.

Everyone is losing their collective cool on this topic. We see these incidents at big time programs and forget that these scandals represent such a small faction of college athletics. Paying high profile athletes would not be unfair to the non-revenue athletes competing in non-revenue producing sports, but also to every football player not involved in one of the power six conferences.

You think anyone cares about a defensive tackle at Western Kentucky? Nope. They don’t care about them the same way they don’t care about a lacrosse player or a tennis player. And like it or not, this matters. This matters because all college athletes play under the same rules (or they are supposed to) whether they are a future No. 1 draft pick or a future elementary school teacher. That is the point of amateurism. That is how it has always been.

Additionally, do you really think paying college athletes will fix anything? If so, you’re just being naïve.

Let's pretend for a minute that college athletes were given a stipend of $10,000 (which will never happen). Now do you think having that $10,000 would have kept Terelle Pryor from having eight cars in his three years at Ohio State? Or do you think having that stipend would have kept the Miami players from partying with prostitutes on a yacht? Or accepting that $50,000 cash? Do you think that money would have kept Reggie Bush’s family from taking that house? No, It is obvious that it wouldn’t have.

Would the stipend be helpful and beneficial to the athletes not playing big time football or basketball? Sure. But again, no one cares about them. This debate is not about them.

It is time for people to open their eyes to the realities of the situation.

Do I know how to fix this situation in college athletics? Nope.

Do I even have a real genuine idea? Not really.

But I do know that paying them doesn’t help the situation out at all. If anything it would hurt the NCAA. If they paid these athletes, they would be essentially admitting that their kids are getting a raw deal. This would leave them open to potential lawsuits and who knows what else.

No one should be blaming these kids for taking these gifts. Who could say they wouldn’t take the gifts and run if they were in their situation? I know I won't say that. I probably would.

Why there haven’t been more college basketball players who go overseas like Brandon Jennings did is something I’ll never understand. He got paid. He did not like the amateur system so he stepped up and did something about it.

For football players it is a little different, there really is no other options. It is either join the UFL or go to college.  College football is to the NFL what the farm system is to baseball except with a lot more exposure. If they want to play ball, they must follow the rules.

Lets take a step back and accept that this is about greed. These kids are not sending this money back to their families to put food on the table. Don’t kid yourself. Many of these kids come from affluent backgrounds to begin with. They are spending their money on partying, clothes, jewelry, and girls. Just like normal college kids. Let's not pretend this is ever going to stop.

 So let's stop talking about paying players once and for all.

After all, they knew what they signed up for. No one made them take that college scholarship.