Santa Clara University


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Should College Athletes Be Paid?

Monday, Oct. 24, 2011

Contest extended:  Best student comment on "Should College Athletes Be Paid?" wins a $100 gift certificate.  Comments must be received by midnight Nov. 6.

Jordan’s family never expected to be able to pay for their son to go to college, but because Jordan received a full ride scholarship to play football at a big university, he has now been given an opportunity his family never hoped for.

However, because his scholarship only covers tuition—and Jordan doesn’t have the time between classes and practices to get a job—he often isn’t able to afford social outings with friends like tickets to the movies or dinner in the city. In fact, he can rarely afford flights home to see his family, too. Still, he enjoys his sociology major and is looking forward to a career as a teacher after college.

Meanwhile, the university itself is making millions of dollars off of the ticket sales, concessions, and memorabilia that Jordan’s athletic talents have helped stimulate. In fact, the value of Jordan’s scholarship is probably just a tiny fraction of the value that he, as a star running back, generates among the university’s rabid fan base. Thus, is it really fair that he doesn’t receive some form of monetary compensation in addition to his scholarship?

Here are some resources:

A Framework for Ethical Decision Making

The Shame of College Sports

Should College Athletes Be Paid? Why They Already Are


Photo by Parker Michael Knight available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial License.


Comments Comments

Matt Savage said on Nov 2, 2011
When it comes to issues of whether or not student athlete's should be paid, we really need to evaluate and recognize the role college's play in our society. The fundamental purpose and goal of any institution of higher learning is to educate. The school has already provided Jordan with a full scholarship, and therefore is fulfilling its role. People make it seem as if the scholarship doesn't mean anything anymore. But it has both tangible and intangible value. First there is the immediate monetary benefit of a free education - Here at SCU, we can all appreciate just how valuable that is - and it allows athletes to avoid crippling loan debts. The athletic scholarship also allows students the opportunities to attend prestigious universities that they otherwise would not have been able to attend, and to receive a college degree which is inherently valuable. The world becomes a scary place when we start de-emphasizing the importance of education in our society. And when we celebrate athletic achievement over academic success, we do an injustice to our student athlete's. - Like - 5 people like this.
Mary Helen said on Nov 2, 2011
Jordan's monitary shortcomings unfortunately affect many college students, many of whom recieve no financial aid at all. In my personal opinion, the university is unfortunately making more money off Jordan than he seems to be recieving, but this does not excuse the fact that he is still recieving a top level education that will be greatly benificial to him in the future. Education is one thing that can never be taken away from you; even in these hard economic times when so many are losing houses, jobs, and cars, education is something that can never be taken away. You cannot place a real value on this (despite the pricetag attached to tuition). The university that is suppling Jordan with an education was under no obligation to do so; his scholarship could easily go to another athlete. The things which are out of Jordan's reach are unfortunately that, just things. Going to the movies or trips to have dinner in the city are luxeries, not necessities, and for him and his family, who had never expected to be able to pay for an education at all, these things should not be considered a priority. Education is the important thing, and this argument seems to forget that. Many potential students find that they cannot afford college, and in the absence of scholarship or grant money (which is a privlidge and a gift to be thankful for), they must either resign themselves to a lack of higher education or acquire substancial loans at terrible interest rates. Jordan does not require these loans because of his scholarship and he will likely exit the university with a bright future, clear of debts and full of potential. The university should not be required to offer more than what can only be considered a fantastic oppurtunity for education, knowledge, and experince. The university may make millions on Jordan, but that money is likely being funneled back to the university, possibly to aid others who do not posses athletic gifts and do not generate revenue for the school (merit based scholars do not directly create profit). So, although Jordan may feel left out every once and a while, and although he may not get to see his family as often as he would like, what he most needs is perspective-- realizing that he is extremely fortunate already and there are many others who are with him and even more who are less fortunate. Jordan will walk away with a degree that he and his family had never even hoped for; he has a bright future, and I believe that missing a few pleasure trips and social gatherings is a small price to pay for that. (Also, there is always skype to see your family, and a fewer number of trips makes the time together all the more special). (Another side note, there are many grants available for people that wish to be educators. If Jordan really feels that is his calling, there is nothing to stop him from applying to get more scholarchip funding.) - Like - 2 people like this.
Bernardo Waxtein said on Nov 6, 2011
o One of the biggest topics of debate in the world of college sports is the issue of whether or not college athletes should get paid. As of now the current NCAA policy on the issue is that athletes are not allowed to get paid, and if they are caught getting paid they can be banned from the NCAA and the sports program for that school can be suspended as well as other punishments. This can be seen with USCs football program, which lost scholarships and bowl eligibility for their football team, in large due to paying Reggie Bush to play football. One of the main arguments against paying athletes is that athletes are getting paid through scholarship which is more than what most students get through going to school, so why should they get paid on top of their scholarships? The truth of the matter is that most NCAA athletes are actually not on full scholarship. The requirements and time commit of an athlete are much more than those of a normal college student as well, and most if not all do not have the time to get a job to make any extra money, and many do not get money from their parents or family. Many people say well that is what all college students go through, but these athletes also help make hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars for their schools. These athletes should be entitled to part of that money. They should not be getting paid millions of dollars, but they should be able to receive a small monthly stipend. Right now the NCAA is trying to introduce a new rule, allowing schools to give $2500 a year to athletes. This does not give schools the ability to recruit athletes better than another or will not make competition unfair, but will allow athletes to buy simple things, like clothing and go out to dinner& etc. There is however speculation that even athletes at the college level are bringing in huge amounts of revenue and therefore should be paid large sums of money per year. As this is my response I feel that they should not be getting hundreds of thousands or millions because then they would be like professionals and not college athletes. We must differentiate the difference between athletes on both levels as college athletes although busy, are not working as rigorously or as competitively as professional athletes and therefore should be paid accordingly. This would be extremely helpful especially to the athletes that are not on scholarship that will not be going pro in the sport they play, which is the majority of college athletes. Everyone thinks that athletes are players like Matt Barkley or Andrew Luck who will one day be making millions of dollars, but most are not and to be a college student struggling with the debt and hardships like everyone else, and on the meantime traveling and go to games and practices for their team makes getting a job nearly impossible and leaves them in a terrible position. If they were able to get paid a small stipend or flat amount a year of a few thousand dollars it would greatly help. College athletics is a multi-billion dollar business, and that is just from the March Madness basketball tournament, So you know what caused me to do a 180 on the issue [not paying athletes]?? That $11 billion deal -- OK, it's $10.8 billion to be exact -- between the NCAA and CBS/Turner Sports for March Madness between 2011 and 2024. (Michael Wilbon, ESPN) These athletes put on a show that everyone enjoys and make billions of dollars in revenue, and should be entitled to some of that. There are many things to consider like should players of some sports be paid more than players of others, because a sport like basketball makes way more money than a sport like swimming for a school, so should those players get paid more. Another big question is what is the cap that players should get paid? Should it be $25000 a year or $2500 a year, but in the next couple of years there should be a policy in place that should let college athletes get paid a small amount of money as a small contribution to those who bring in millions of dollars for the respective universities. - Like - 8 people like this.
Miriam Schulman said on Nov 7, 2011
Really thoughtful comments this week! We gave the gift certificate to Bernardo for has fact-filled response. One update on his comments. As the Minnesota Daily, from University of Minnesota, reports: The NCAA announced two major reforms in college athletics last week to go into effect for the 2012-13 academic year  one that toughens academic standards for student-athletes, and one that now allows universities to pay a $2,000 stipend per full-scholarship athlete to help cover what the NCAA calls the full cost of attendance. - Like - 1 person likes this.
Austin said on Nov 9, 2011
NO - Like - 3 people like this.
Patrick said on Nov 17, 2011
College is for education not to be a star. The college is already paying him to go to their school. There are plenty of people with out any financial aid that have his spending problem, why should he be special enough to receive extra money? - Like - 3 people like this.
Siena H said on Jan 30, 2014
Agreeing with Matt, the college's primary duty is to educate its students. By providing a scholarship to Jordan and his fellow athletes, it is fulfilling this purpose and giving Jordan a college opportunity that he wouldn't have been able to afford otherwise. On the other hand, Jordan's hard work is earning the university far more than his tuition- Jordan generates revenue (probably in the multi-million dollar range) and an improved reputation for the school. Shouldn't he get a percentage of his earnings? Think about it in another context. Should someone who works at Apple's Genius Bar get a cut of Apple's enormous profit (think of an employee's salary as Jordan's tuition)? They are fuelling Apple's industry, increasing its popularity and often becoming Apple's public face. How different are they from college athletes? And yet it makes absolute sense for them to be paid the same as any other employee. If you consider a college athlete to be an employee of the school (playing in return for tuition,) then they are being paid a fair wage for their labor. It is unnecessary for them to be paid a compensation, as they are simply fulfilling their agreement. - Like
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