Geno Auriemma Says College Athletes Should Be Paid; Current System 'Unfair'

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistMarch 28, 2019

COLUMBUS, OH - MARCH 30: Head coach Geno Auriemma of the Connecticut Huskies reacts against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish during the first half in the semifinals of the 2018 NCAA Women's Final Four at Nationwide Arena on March 30, 2018 in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Add Connecticut women's basketball head coach Geno Auriemma to the list of people in favor of college athletes being paid for their services. 

Speaking to Kelli Stacy of the Hartford Courant, Auriemma explained why he thinks the current system is unfair to student-athletes:

"I think players should get paid. ... And when people are getting paid, a lot of things come with that. There are a lot of pluses to it. I believe in it. There are a lot of pluses to athletes getting paid. No one's been able to figure out how to deal with the negatives. I'm sure at some point someone will be able to figure it out. Because the world is changing, and coaches are making billions of dollars and schools are making billions of dollars. So all players get is a free education, the cover of Sports Illustrated, four hours on ESPN every night and an opportunity to grow their brand, so I think it's completely unfair to those kids.”

The topic was broached after United States Senator Chris Murphy issued a 15-page report called "Madness, Inc." about the need for college athletes to be paid for their services by the NCAA. 

One highlight of the report is the $14.1 billion generated by the NCAA over the past year, along with a mention of how the organization has used Duke sensation Zion Williamson:

"The money all around college sports has particularly profited the corporate interests that find every way imaginable to market student-athletes. Those same corporations have directly fueled the massive growth of the industry, while making sure their margins expand off the backs of 'amateurs.'

"Again, Zion Williamson offers a perfect example, in this case how corporations exploit the unique and immoral amateurism of college sports."

NCAA president Mark Emmert said last year paying football and basketball players would lead to schools eliminating other sports:

Emmert's comments echo the organization's stance that financially rewarding student-athletes would be harmful to schools because of the financial disparity between large and smaller institutions. 

As recently as 2016, the highest-paid public employee in 39 different states were college football or men's basketball coaches. 

NCAA revenues passed $1 billion for the first time in 2018 thanks to its new television contracts.