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How To Solve The NCAA's "Paying The Athletes" Problem

Updated: Aug 6, 2020

Author: Marshall Beldon

When an athlete decides to attend a college, he or she must consider all of the benefits of each option. One university may offer a better opportunity to make it to a professional sports league, while another program may have a superior education with endless job opportunities. There are several things for these individuals to consider, and the ultimate decision is one that should benefit the player the most.

For the majority of students, college is very rigorous and time-consuming, and there is a lot of self-discipline needed to succeed. Being away from family for the first time can be difficult to adapt to, especially considering all of the opportunities and freedom college has to offer. However, that is not the case for student athletes, who are expected to perform well in school while practicing and training for the majority of each day. Extra-curricular and social activities are next to none for these individuals, and they do not have sufficient time to get a job with steady income.

College football is one of the most popular sports in the world, and it continues to grow and increase its ratings. Universities are seeing a tremendous amount of revenue from college football, and this amount only seems to be getting larger. It is a billion-dollar industry, and some of these college are receiving hundreds of millions of dollars themselves. In 2019, The University of Texas at Austin earned approximately $156.9 million in revenue from football. Therefore, the hot topic around the sport is: should NCAAF student athletes be compensated for their play? While some critics suggest that athletes already receive an education, food, clothes, and housing, there are still some issues associated with universities keeping so much of this generated revenue.

NCAAF coaches and staff receive most of the money from football revenue. These coaches would not have jobs without these players, so it is difficult to understand why only the coaches are paid. Dabo Swinney, the head football coach at Clemson University, had the highest 2019 salary of any college football coach of $9,315,600. Similarly, in the NFL, the highest paid coach is Bill Belichick, who has an annual salary of $12 million. Considering these similarities in salaries, I think there are some grounds for college football players to earn some type of salary of their own. These student athletes, not including the coaches, are the ones generating the revenue for college football.

Since I consider the NCAAF to be a major organization, similar to the NBA, MLB, and NFL, I believe there needs to be some form of contract that players must abide by. If the player is able to adequately follow the guidelines implemented by the team, as a professional athlete must do, then I believe the individual should be compensated with a base salary. Each athlete, regardless of his or her skill level, should be provided the same payment. This would be mandated across the entire league, so that each individual is provided an equal opportunity.

In addition to the base salary, I suggest that there is a “Top 100 Football Athletes,” which will be voted on by a selection committee similar to the College Football Playoff. Each athlete on this list will be provided a bonus salary, with the highest ranked players receiving the greatest amounts. Not only will this list generate better competition and ratings, but it will also showcase the best possible version of college football players. If these individuals have a desire to make the list, then they will have to work endlessly to get there. In the NFL, athletes are rewarded for better play, and that is how it should also be in the NCAAF.

Furthermore, by creating a ranking system for college football, the NCAAF will have the feeling of a professional sports organization. I strongly believe that this new format will be beneficial to college football players because it will help them mature as well as understand the value of money. It seems as though some young athletes have difficulties with learning how to effectively spend their money once they receive these large contracts. Therefore, providing them with smaller, yet sufficient salaries at the college level could provide them with valuable learning experiences.

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