Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Pay to play isn’t the way in college


— Those vocal advocates of paying college athletes for their services can forget about it. It is not going to happen. At least that is the word from Mark Emmert, the NCAA’s new man in charge.

“We’re not going to pay players to play sports,” Emmert said Friday prior to speaking at an athletics banquet to celebrate Winthrop University’s 125th anniversary.

Emmert’s succinct comment was in response to the persistent chatter among fans that athletes are riding Mopeds to class and scraping by in tattered T-shirts while NCAA coaches and administrators are driving luxury cars and sipping Dom Perignon.

It hardly seems fair, at least in the view of many fans. They claim the great imbalance could be solved by including athletes on the monthly payroll of every NCAA school.

Of course, it is not that simple. First, most of those yelping the loudest want only football players to be paid because that sport generates the bulk of operating budgets throughout the NCAA.

The problem with that line of thinking is NCAA schools would have to pay all athletes in men’s and women’s sports, which is not financially feasible. As Emmert pointed out, only 14 of the approximately 1,100 NCAA-member athletics departments broke even or turned a profit this past year.

So, what to do to about the public perception that the fat cats are living the high life off the underlings? Emmert says it starts with getting the word out about how the NCAA serves athletes. That means renaming amateurism rather than redefining it.

Emmert is doing his part on the former stance. Since taking over as NCAA president on Nov. 1, Emmert has made himself more visible than any of his predecessors.

Now Emmert is out preaching the good word of the NCAA. He tells audiences that student-athletes graduate at a higher rate than student bodies. He says student-athletes are afforded golden opportunities to improve their lot in life through scholarships.

“People fight like crazy to come to the United States to gain access to American universities because they are the best, and that includes athletes,” Emmert says. “There is no place to get the kind of athletic experience, without being a professional, to get you ready for that profession that you can get anywhere in the world except at an American university.

“So, what does a young person have to do? Well, they have to go to school and get a good education. Then they get to enjoy all these amazing activities. Then, if they are talented enough, go out and make a fortune playing sports. That strikes me as a pretty good deal.”

While that is all well and good, it does not address the problems the NCAA faces in defining amateurism. More and more, it seems, student-athletes are accepting under-the-table payouts that jeopardize their amateur status.

Emmert prefers to use the term “pre-professional,” rather than amateur. He says the NCAA is in the business of preparing its student-athletes to be professionals, whether it be in the business world or in the sports world.

Emmert says NCAA schools help prepare athletes for professional sports by providing top-level coaching, training and facilities. He says the NCAA needs to go further by educating athletes for a possible future in professional sports.

To that end, the NCAA recently formed a committee to study and make recommendations for how better to prepare student-athletes for professional sports.

Emmert is certain the committee will not recommend that college athletes be paid.


Nutflush21 7 years, 5 months ago

Athletes on a full-ride get a stipend check every single month to cover living expenses. At KU it is a low four figure amount which is a heck of lot more money than I ever made in one month working a part-time job while in college. This crap about athletes not being able to make ends meet while their in school is just that... crap.

ahpersecoachingexperience 7 years, 5 months ago

No they shouldn't get paid. Yes they should get something if stores are selling their jersey or using their "likeness" to turn a profit.

werner24 7 years, 5 months ago

I agree 100% student athletes should NOT get paid. And the line: "scraping by in tattered T-shirts". Are you friggin' kidding me?!?!? Haven't you ever walked campus before? Student athletes are easily spotted in the most up-to-date, 'stylish' if you will, gear ranging from beanies, to hoodies, to shoes, etc. What about tuition, food, books, tutors, etc...I put about $50k into all of that while I was in college, I'm pretty sure $10k+ a year to play collegiate sports is plenty.

kckmedic 7 years, 5 months ago

It hasn't been $10k a year for quite a while. I believe that 1 year of expenses at KU, including room and board, is around $20k. And that doesn't include all of the extras you mentioned.

kckmedic 7 years, 5 months ago

I will have over $100,000 in student loans when I graduate. Until a scholarship athlete can say that I don't want to hear them complain about not getting paid to play a game when they already get a free education. Plus, they get a lot more benefits than just tuition. Tutors that we would have to pay for. Free clothes. It may just be workout clothes but it is all brand name and that's all I saw them guys wearing when I was doing my undergrad at KU. Free shoes. Free meals. And good meals I remember what it was like when Bill would come and give the campers their leftovers after practice. They're not always eating cafeteria food. Let's not act like these kids are living on the street.

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