Student-Athlete Compensation

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If any of you know the song Varsity Blues by the rapper Wale, you should know the basic
premise on which the song was written, in college sports today, especially the revenue sports of
football and men's basketball, student-athletes are being exploited. A verse goes in the song,
"they always at their class, they always at their practice, and while they bummin' for cash, you
made a grip off a bracket." In summary this verse is saying that people are getting rich off of the
athlete's hard work. This is an exact analogy of what the NCAA is doing each year. We have to
find a way to fairly compensate those whose hard work drives the "money train" of the NCAA.
So I say the NCAA and its universities should pay their student-athletes a $4800 per year
stipend aside from scholarships. First I will give you the realities of life as a student-athlete, the
realities of what Murray Sperber calls the College Sports MegaInc., and finally some ideas of

Facts spell out a situation like this better than stories, so here are some actual statistics
of a Division 1 college football player. Each week day there is an hour of lifting, an hour of film,
two hours of meetings and two or more hours of practice. The night before a game is filled with
another four hours of meetings and film and the day of a game is filled with three hours of
meetings and walk-thrus before the four hour game. When added up this equates to a full-time
job, forty or more hours per week, six days a week. Scholarship athletes receive a one-thousand
dollar stipend each month, which is for everything other than tuition and books. This comes out
to $6.25 per hour of football which is about two-thirds of minimum wage in the state of
Washington. And even when you add tuition and books into the equation is still only amounts
to $13.97 per hour, which is only an average paying job for a college age person. Now let us
compare to a vocational student (a full-time student who works forty hours per week). It is true

that athletes receive "perks" that non-athletes do not, like free clothes, tutoring and free entry
to other sporting events, but let us make the fair comparison that the physical toll inflicted on
an athlete's body is like working twenty hours of overtime (which is actually the case when
rehab, treatment, and icing hours are taken into account). A vocational student who works
twenty hours of overtime should easily be able to obtain the "perks" of a student-athlete. And
finally the main difference between an athlete and a non-athlete is that non-athletes do not
make their universities millions of dollars a year from their craft.

But do not put the blame solely on the universities because the NCAA or as Murray
Sperber, author of Beer and Circus, calls it: the College Sports MegaInc. has the final say on all
of the rules of college athletics. The NCAA has the best business plan of any enterprise in the
United States, they rake in billions of dollars each year, six billion to be specific, and they do not
have to pay their real employees a dime. The NCAA argues that college athletes are amateur
athletes and therefore should not be paid, but I argue that they are professionals, in a
university farm system. I mean there is a reason why the NBA and the NFL do not have minor
leagues, why would they when universities professionally train their next generation athletes
for free? Well then where does the money go? According to a couple of sources, the coaches
and administrators are seeing the most cash-flow. Who are the two highest paid employees of
the state of Washington? According to the Office of Financial Management they are Stephen
Sarkisian and Lorenzo Romar, those two names should ring a bell. They each make more than
ten times that of Christine Gregoire. An even better stat stated by Joe Nocera of the New York
Times, says that Mark Brown the head football coach of the University of Texas, made 5.1

million dollars last year, which is two million more than the combined amount of scholarship
money for his players.

That then leads to thoughts on reform, and starts first with the leaders. Coaches and
administrators make these huge salaries because the universities do not have to pay their
athletes, so start with a salary cap that says no coach or administrator can make more than one
million per year, this would free up revenue for the athletes and would even have some left
over for the academic department as a whole. The second idea of reform has to do with
scholarships. Wale has another verse in his song Varsity Blues that goes, "yeah they always
defend you, look how they say your name, but if you rupture a tendon, I bet the feelings
change." This is the sad truth of college scholarships. As it is now a college scholarship is a one-
year renewable grant for up to 6 years. That means if a player is severely hurt, or just flat out
isn't performing then they can be cut from the team and lose their scholarship. That doesn't
sound like a student first attitude; that sounds a lot like what professional teams do with their
unfortunate athletes. When a university recruits a player they are taking an educated risk on
that player, knowing full well that anything can happen while that player is at college. That is
why if universities and the NCAA want to be taken seriously with an academics first mission
they will change the scholarship to a 6-year guaranteed grant. The third idea of reform is that
there needs to be a College Players Association to act as a union or at least a mediator between
athletes and their governing body the NCAA. Athletes now, have no voice and no rights, and
with a CPA athletes would be given fair opportunities.

And the final reform needed is for the athletes to be fairly compensated to the tune of
$4800/year, a modest amount and a step forward away from the current exploitation of the

student-athletes. The Collge Sports MegaInc. says they are amateurs, testimony says they work
full time, coaches say they better perform, fans say they better perform, teachers say they
better perform, everyone wants the money and it all rests upon the shoulders of those caught
up in their very own Varsity Blues.