Should College Athletes get paid?

Should College Athletes get paid?

Top college athlete, Paige Bueckers, a UConn guard, recently signed a $1 million endorsement deal with Gatorade.  On top of that, she receives a scholarship valued at approximately $60,000 per year.  Now imagine UConn, a state university with many top athletes, being required to pay Ms. Bueckers and all the others a salary on top of the endorsements and scholarships they receive!  Where will the money come from to fund the non-athletic programs and opportunities?  Forget about paying these athletes who get valuable scholarship compensation, college athletes should not get paid! 


Some people will tell you that college athletes deserve to get paid since they have to find time to have good enough grades and play on the sports team. They will say that is too much for a college athlete to handle and it can take away opportunities for them to do jobs outside of school and make money. But let’s focus on the facts here. Athletes are getting lucrative scholarships from these schools to play a sport at a top, competitive level. They’re also allowed to make money outside of school. Athletes are now allowed to sign endorsement deals in 40 states! That’s 80% of the US!  Paying players a salary along with a scholarship is taking too much value away from students who don’t play a sport. Athletes could also have trouble handling all of that money at such a young age. These reasons clearly support the fact that  college athletes should not get paid based on the value of what they are already getting!


Scholarships provide valuable compensation to college athletes. A full ride scholarship pays for the athlete’s education, dorm and food.  Even a partial athletic scholarship is valuable because it provides the player with college level athletic opportunities. According to the Villanova and Duke University websites, tuition, room, and board at these private schools is approximately $80,000 per year.  The top athlete is getting that for free with their full ride scholarship. This is important because not only is he getting educational value, he is getting athletic value as well.  Athletic programs at the top schools provide players with the best coaches, high level competitive play, and scouting opportunities.  If a player is given a salary, on top of his lucrative full ride scholarship, that leaves less scholarship money for less fortunate students who need it more.  According to the article, “Pros and Cons of College Athletes Getting Paid,” only 9.9% of college baseball players go pro and that is the largest percentage for any college sport. And most athletes on a team get at least a partial athletic scholarship. So, do the other 90.1% of players that most likely have scholarships deserve to get paid, even if they’re not talented enough to make the professional level of their sport? No! Scholarships already give enough valuable compensation to the athlete. 


College athletes are also allowed to sign endorsement deals with companies. According to the article, “Student-athletes in California will be allowed to sign endorsement deals,” it states that these students will be allowed to sign endorsement deals and this rule is now in 40 of America’s 50 states. The NCAA changed the rule to help top college athletes (the ones that would get paid) sign endorsement deals and make money, which wasn’t allowed previously. In the article, “How “name, image and likeness” rights change the game for NCAA  athletes,” it states that in 2009 a UCLA graduate who was a top player on their basketball team, sued the NCAA for putting his name, image, and likeness in a video game without his permission, and without payment. This was huge for the NCAA and for the players.  As a result of the suit, the rules changed to keep the athletes and their bank accounts safe. Even NBA Hall of Famer Michael Jordan and current NBA players like Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James and Golden State Warriors guard Jordan Poole support this rule and think it was a great move for the NCAA. Top athletes are even doing this now. Collin Gillespie—star Villanova guard—signed an endorsement deal with Rice Krispies, allowing him to make money before he will probably make millions of dollars in the NBA. Why should the NCAA pay these top players money when they’re allowed to already make a decent amount before they probably go pro?


If college athletes were to get paid, non-athletes and educational programs at these schools would get less funding. According to the University of Alabama, some of their football profits go towards education. So, if they were to pay college athletes, there would be less money for education. On average, about 3,067,050 students go to a Division 1 college and only about 176,000, or about 6%, of them play a sport. So, if the NCAA pays the athletes, you’re taking away opportunities for 94% of Division 1 students. While a college is somewhat an organization, it’s mostly an educational institution. And if the NCAA pays their athletes, it’s taking away the whole purpose of a college being an educational institution and putting education first!


Some athletes don’t know how to handle their money. According to the article “How Athletes Go Bankrupt at an alarming rate,” it said that 15.7% of NFL players end up filing bankruptcy within 12 years of retiring. Also, the average career length for an NFL, NBA or MLB player is only 4.6 years. Most players don’t play a long career and come to the professional level in their early to mid 20’s. This is saying young athletes have trouble handling their money. For example, generational, Hall of Fame QB and football broadcaster, Dan Marino, invested over 1.5 million shares of a company called Digital Domain, a company widely known for producing the hologram of Tupac Shakur at the Coachella Music and Art Festival. Shortly after, Marino ended up losing around 14 million dollars. This shows that even one of the top quarterbacks in NFL history didn’t know how to handle his money initially. A Sports Illustrated article reports that 78% of NFL players and 60% of NBA players face serious financial hardships after retirement. This most likely happens because the average career length (4.6 years for NFL, NBA and MLB players), means athletes usually retire in their 20’s, still young. So, young athletes who got paid a lot of money didn’t know how to handle it at a somewhat young age. Some of these athletes are near their 30’s as well. Imagine what a college kid would do with money they can only dream of at that age. Doesn’t sound like a great idea, NCAA!


Many people will say college athletes should get paid since they’re putting their body on the line to play. However, no one realizes that college athletes get enough benefits like the valuable compensation of a scholarship, their ability to sign endorsement deals, the unfair benefits compared to other students and that some athletes don’t know how to handle money at a young age. That is what the research shows and college athletes getting paid would be so bad on so many different levels. National Collegiate Athletic Association, keep these rules and don’t pay college athletes! 


Works Cited

“Equity in Athletics Data Analysis Cutting Tool.” Office of Postsecondary Education, Accessed 23 March 2022.

Hart, Daniel. “How Athletes Go Bankrupt at an Alarming Rate.” Accessed 17 Mar. 2022.

“How “name, image and likeness” rights change for the game for NCAA athletes.” Christian Science Monitor, 19 Oct. 2019. Newsela. Accessed 11 Mar. 2022.

“Student-athletes in California will be allowed to sign endorsement deals.” Associated Press, 8 Oct. 2019. Newsela. Accessed 11 Mar. 2022.

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