Opinion: Paying Student Athletes

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Opinion: Paying Student Athletes

Noah Birenbaum

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After watching the NCAA March Madness Tournament this year, many wonder how much money the NCAA makes off the tournament.

Then, there it comes: the discussion about whether or not to pay student-athletes.

According to Investopedia.com, last season, the National Collegiate Athletic Association took in $1 billion in revenue on the three-week tournament alone. That number includes TV ads, media fees and, of course, ticket sales.

Yet the source of the income, the student athletes, don’t see any of that money — maybe an extra T-shirt or two for participating.

Some colleges don’t receive a lot of income from the tournament, which is why some basketball programs struggle to break even profit wise. In fact, only one-third of the schools participating in Division 1 basketball make a profit — only if they are consistently in the big dance that is March Madness.

So if the universities themselves struggle to make money and some are even in debt, why should the players be recipients to money that they don’t have? (Of course basketball is not the only sport in question of paying, but others as well).

Now I know the argument that the NCAA itself should pay the athletes, but at the same time, if they pay basketball players, shouldn’t they pay football, soccer, volleyball, baseball, lacrosse,(etc)? And if so, how do they pay them? Should they be equal wages or should they be paid based on the revenue from that individual sport?

Most student athletes are on full scholarship, with just a small portion of the players having to pay their own way. So, if a student goes to UW-Madison on a full ride, depending on in-state or out-of-state, the university is saving the student $100,000-$125,000 in total because of his or her excellence in athletics.


Tuition- Free

Room and Board- Free

Meals- Free


Paying student athletes would ruin the game. After all, isn’t the reason most people love college athletics because the athletes play for the love of the game and not for the money? And because they play for the pride of their universities and not the paycheck?

If you pay student-athletes, you would see all the same things you’d see in the pros: players holding out for more money and, of course, contract stipulations. It wouldn’t be fun anymore; it would just turn into a cash grab for the players.

Basically what I’m saying is that players shouldn’t get paid; however, they should be able to profit off themselves since they are the ones responsible for their success.

Think about it. If I am buying a Nigel Hayes Wisconsin #10 jersey, shouldn’t he make a portion of that money since he is the reason I am buying that particular jersey? A basketball jersey online is $74.99, which isn’t a huge investment but a substantial amount of money where the player could make $20 off their jersey.

It isn’t much — just a reward for the athlete because they are the reason you go out and buy that particular number since there are no name plates on college jerseys that are authentic through the NCAA.

A few years back in 2014, University of Georgia running back Todd Gurley was suspended for profiting off his name. The star running back received $3,000 for signing autographs and memorabilia for dealers. In college athletics, it is against the the rules for players to be making money off their signatures. But players do it for extra money to help their families and whatever they need it for. Who can blame them? You make a name for yourself at a household university but can’t make money off your name because the NCAA said so. Doesn’t seem right to me.


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