From Manziel to Wiggins: It is time to start paying NCAA Athletes

Creative Response Blog

$100 million? For an 18 year-old kid who hasn’t even played an NCAA game yet? Pretty ridiculous, right? Wrong. The debate as to whether or not NCAA athletes should receive compensation for their services is ever growing, and can even be mentioned in the same breath as concussions in the NFL or name changes in pro sports as popular sports stories of the decade. The question is quite simple, although it may seem complex because of the variations that follow. This article goes in depth into the recruiting by shoe companies for the services of the supposed next big thing in the sports world, Canadian Andrew Wiggins. Even though companies cannot even speak with him for another 8 months, this article looks at all possible angles, from who is agent could be, to what company outfitted is AAU team, to give the reader an idea what brand he will be wearing on his feet. Although this article does not look into whether or not athletes should receive compensation above scholarships, it does raise the question.

Enter Johnny Manziel, star quarterback for the Texas A&M Aggies, and the first freshman to win the Heisman trophy. But what’s not on his resume is most appealing to me. Manziel is (or was) the poster-boy for NCAA athletics because of this outgoing personality, and obvious skill on the gridiron. And what comes with being the poster-boy for the NCAA is millions of dollars in revenue. None of which, he will see. Manziel has been in the news recently, as it was reported he took money from a broker to sign memorabilia, a big no-no in the NCAA’s books. Manziel served a one half of a game suspension, as the NCAA lacked the evidence to pursue this case further.

Manziel is not alone in this case, as many other athletes and programs have been derailed by the NCAA for what they call ‘impermissible benefits.” What constitutes an impermissible benefit is something that not every other student has access to. For example, the school cannot buy Johnny Manziel a car, because it didn’t buy every other student a car. Easy enough? But the issue is, not every other student at the school is making millions of dollars in revenue for the school and the NCAA. Arguments can go either way. Sure there is the fact that these student-athletes are receiving up to $50,000 worth of free education and exposure every year. But for Manziel, $50,000 times his 4 years there does not come close to the money he has generated. Obviously, this isn’t the case for every athlete in the NCAA, but is for many of the high profile ones.

A solution is on the table, but will not get implemented any time soon. NCAA Board of Governors and members passed a by-law that would allow all student athletes to receive $2000 per year in cash. A small amount sure, but for many of these athletes who train year round and aren’t able to have a part time job, this money would go a long way. And yes my point that Manziel still wouldn’t be making the money he is generating does not work here, I still do believe that there should be equity amongst all sports.

So should NCAA athletes be paid? And if so, what is a good way to do so?

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7 Responses to From Manziel to Wiggins: It is time to start paying NCAA Athletes

  1. jaredgib says:

    Great article, and I absolutely agree with your point. To me, any form of “high-performance amateur sport” that is generating money for the NCAA (you could even include amateur hockey leagues like the OHL or WHL) should be treated similar to a paid “internship”. The average amateur athlete is putting insane hours into practice, training, team events, and playing the games that it is impossible for them to earn a living. I’m sure we’ve all heard the stories of college athletes who struggle to keep food in their cupboards due to their lack of personal income. My suggestion would be to pay them per hour that they invest at team community events & competing against other schools, as these are the aspects that, as you have mentioned, drive millions of revenue dollars into the school and local economy. It would not need to be much, perhaps a wage of $18-20US/hour (my estimation would be per week they could earn anywhere from $100-$400, depending on the sport and number of team events), but it would be enough to share some of the revenue the NCAA is hoarding from their currently free labour.

    Marked – SE

  2. wesdimascio says:

    I’ve always been disgusted with how the NCAA operates in terms of making money off of student athletes. I agree with the point made about allowing players to earn wages for the time they put in. I also think giving each student athlete an “allowance” would help out in some way. These students are bringing in so much money for the NCAA, the least they could do is hand the student-athletes a minimum allowance to pay for food, entertainment, etc. These student-athletes are athletes first and are committed to the sport they play, but they are also human and have lives beyond sports.

    Marked – SE

  3. jpecchia92 says:

    I too believe that NCAA athletes should be compensated for the effort and time they put in to making the NCAA millions and millions of dollars. Football programs make up the majority of the revenue from schools in the United States, for example Texas spends almost $26 million on their football program but earns close to $104 million! The way I think that the athletes should be compensated is that a percentage of the total revenue of the NCAA made from sports should be evenly distributed between the athletes. Of course it can be worked out that sports that earn more money can have more money allocated to their athletes (i,e, football players get more than tennis players). I agree with the NCAA’s rules to not allow players to be endorsed but I think that they should change this policy to allow players to be endorsed but only under the condition that they sign a contract agreeing to complete their educational degree. This way the players cannot decide to quit playing for the school and not get an education. At the end of the day the NCAA is leaving these players but no choice but to play for free in hopes of making it big while the people up top load up their pockets on the backs of young athletes.

    Marked – SE

  4. bcubello says:

    College and university athletes are amateur athletes, and as a result should not be paid like a professional athlete. These athletes are receiving free education. That in itself is a good deal in exchange for playing a sport. However, that is not to say that I do not agree with you. I do believe that these athletes should be able to receive monetary compensation when they are asked by the school or another organization to do something outside of the sport. For instance, when Manziel was asked to sign memorabilia for another parties benefit, then he should be entitled to compensation for his time. Even though they are amateur athletes, schools should not be able to take advantage of their name or reputation.

    Marked – SE

  5. cm10hu says:

    I’ve always had a hard time deciding if College athletes should be paid for their services in such a profitable body of sport. It’s impossible to find a middle ground in the debate as every side is met with a lot of opposition. I don’t 100% buy into the academic argument claiming – at least at the Division I level – they are students and since tuition is covered that is their benefit. The top football and basketball athletes obviously go there for sport. At the same time that tuition is a privilege many don’t have and cannot be ignored.

    Marked – SE

  6. vbibby says:

    The problem with American collegiate athletics is the fact they ignore the title “STUDENT” athlete. I have been following this argument for a pretty decent amount of time and part of the issue is that these athletes are being treated like professional athletes before their time (yes it comes with the territory of being a standout player), this is the same reason why the 1 year of post secondary was implemented for the NBA. Now to the root of the question, should the athletes be paid? In all honesty if it was Canadian Athletics we were talking about, a big fat no would be the answer but seeing as the topic is American athletics, I think they should be compensating more then they already are getting. In no means should they be compensated with material items such as cars, jewelry or anything companies have been trying to provide (leave that to the big leagues) but they should be compensated more by the school. The schools fight to get the acceptance from star athletes for 1) yes it will help the team/program but 2) the amount of funding that can come to the program/school. (more funding means coach gets bigger christmas bonus). Let’s put it this way what happens if for example Andrew Wiggens decides to go to a D2 school, does this make him any less of star player? Not really, but it will hurt the D1 schools. The star athletes hold the power to the amount of funding a school will receive so why not pay them or give back. Its like not giving a top sales person at your company no compensation.

    Marked – SE

  7. km10sy says:

    Very interesting article, I agree with many of your points. If was to play devil’s advocate I would say that I don’t think NCAA athletes should be paid be paid by the school instead they should be given guaranteed scholarships. This gives students the incentive to make the most of their college experience, pull of good grades and have a backup plan if there sport doesn’t work out. The guarantee should be left in to all student athletes, no matter if they get injured or cut. Student athletes know the potential consequences and rewards. If they demonstrate their ability to play they will be more than compensated once they reach the professional level.
    Where I do completely agree with you is that they should be able to receive endorsements. I don’t see the purpose of the NCAA banning this as it would help them develop their brand more. Having one of their student’s from in center on national ad by Adidas or Nike would only boost fan support. I think it would also eliminate all players taking money under the tables from schools and other shady dealings.

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