COLUMN: Should college football players receive compensation?


Steven Depolo

The Carroll News Sports Editor Anna Meyer discusses whether college football players should be compensated

Anna Meyer, Sports Editor

Over the years, there has always been a debate about whether collegiate athletes should receive payment for their work. Most of the time, the talk surrounding college athletes and getting paid tends to revolve around the sport of football. 

In the long run, the sound of college athletes getting paid may sound appealing, but there are many reasons why they should not. 

In fact, I believe that if college football players begin to receive a salary, the foundation around college athletics will be lost, and it will open up new avenues for problems within the realm. 

My first reason college athletes shouldn’t be paid is that they are already paid indirectly. Maybe college athletes don’t necessarily directly see the money in their pockets, but the money is there. 

For example, the average cost of tuition to receive a four-year degree is $35,331 a year. In 2016, the average scholarship amount that a Division I football player acquired in the FBS was $36,070, right above the average tuition cost for attending college. 

One of the perks of being a standout athlete on a high scholarship package is that you don’t have to worry about working throughout college to help offset the cost of tuition. Essentially, you already have most of your education expenses taken care of. 

Because of this reason, student-athletes fortunate enough to receive such a robust scholarship package will never deal with the average $36,510 of student loan debt that many Americans struggle with. 

If universities and colleges began to pay athletes, schools would face difficult decisions across all NCAA levels. 

Higher education institutions, including Maryville University, believe that paying college athletes directly takes away from the primary reason students attend college 

According to Maryville University, colleges and universities serve as institutions that provide students with an exceptional education that sets them up for success in their professional careers after graduating from college. 

While some collegiate football players are talented enough to go on and play in leagues such as the NFL, paying the athletes in college would take away the point of having scholarships presented for them to have their education funded. 

One of the most challenging decisions schools would face is what sports to keep and what sports to cut. At most NCAA institutions across all levels, universities do not have nearly enough money to fund every student-athlete on campus, especially for smaller schools. 

Yes, I am sure that a very select few of the big NCAA Division I powerhouses can use the revenue they use to pay almost every student-athlete, but at smaller NCAA Division I, II or III schools, the revenue levels drop off, which results in fewer funds for student-athletes to get. 

As a result, smaller schools may simply not exist in the athletic realm, and there will be fewer collegiate athletes in the United States. 

Only large schools with many donors and significant revenue-driven sources would succeed in this position. The result of this will be that powerhouse schools will continue to be powerful, and smaller schools will suffer, potentially lacking the ability to have NCAA athletic programs. 

There also would be the problem of equality amongst athletes and teams on campus. Under the rules of the Title IX Education Amendments, educational intuitions are not allowed to discriminate and deny benefits to anyone based on sex, sexual orientation or gender.

If you pay football players, every college athlete deserves to be paid no matter their sport or gender. Obviously, the compensation across the sports will vary, but if every single athlete on campus is not paid, colleges and universities will face legal action from parents and students, resulting in many discrimination lawsuits breaking Title IX rules. 

If male football players began to be compensated for their play, colleges would have to fund their athletes across the campus, which would result in my earlier point as to why many sports teams would be taken away from colleges. At this point, athletics at the NCAA Division III and Division II levels would be most likely eliminated.

Next time you think that college football players should be paid, remember what college is truly for. Higher education is a place where classes should come first, and then athletics. If individuals were paid, the sense of going to college to succeed in the workforce after graduation would diminish as sports would become their main priority, and the difference between amateur and professional would be a blurry line.