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College Athletes Deserve Compensation

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College Athletes Deserve Compensation

Would an individual accept a job that required very challenging mental and physical work, had a risk of significant injury, required regular travel, and paid the individual only in education? College athletes today are considered amateurs by the NCAA, and that means by rule they can not be compensated for the time they put into the sport they play for the university that they represent. However, the same universities generate millions in revenue for their athletic programs on the work of these same student athletes. It is necessary to compensate college athletes with a stipend because their demanding schedules do not allow them to work paying jobs, the universities profit from their contributions, and the majority of student athletes will not go professional in the sport they play.

Today’s college athletes are required to be full time students with a minimum of twelve credit hours, spend a significant amount of time practicing and traveling, and training in the off season, and this schedule does not allow them the time needed to work a paying job to cover their living expenses. The football team at Northwestern University has sued claiming that student-athletes are employees of the university, and the president of the College Athletes Players Association testified to the National Labor Relations Board that the time commitments of an athlete can reach up to 60 hours per week. (Wolverton, 2014). “On top of tuition, room, and board, student-athletes also need hygiene products, clothing, gas, and other incidentals – all things that require money and for which scholarships can rarely be used” (Bertolas, Krejci, Stanley, 2018). Many current student-athletes do have part-time employment, but it is made even more challenging by the fact that employers want their employees to have consistent schedules, and the schedule of a student-athlete can change very dramatically based on the circumstances of their sport. (Bertolas, Krejci, Stanley, 2018). An employer needs employee that they can reliably schedule shifts for, and particularly in the service and retail jobs that many students athletes work. When the student athletes have away games, tournaments, and playoffs it can make them into unreliable employees. These student-athletes are struggling to pay for basic living necessities while the universities that they represent continue to grow their significant revenue streams from the athletic departments.

The business of college athletics has grown exponentially over the last few decades from ticket sales, booster donations, television contracts, radio agreements, video game licenses, and merchandise sales. The University of Northwestern’s football program generated $235 million in revenue from 2003-2012 (Karcher, 2017). There are 252 division 1 football programs, 351 basketball programs, 298 baseball programs, and 204 soccer programs that all generate revenue for their respective universities (Karcher, 2017). The universities spend lavishly on athletic facilities and coaches, and in 2012 USA Today reported that the average college football coach was paid at least $2 million per year at the 42 universities they surveyed (Morganfield, 2018). This disparity in pay between the athletic directors and coaches making millions and the on field talent making nothing is exactly the type of situation that has led to unions and legal protection for employees in other industries, but there has been no change in the compensation rules for college athletes in a significant time. The universities and coaches are profiting from the hard work and dedication of their student athletes, but most of the athletes will not profit from going professional in the sport they are playing.

Many college athletes work for years to perform at an extremely high level in their sport, but in the end very few of them are able to financially benefit from that work by turning their sport into a professional career. After completing college less then 1% of student-athletes will get paid to compete professionally in their chosen sport (Bertolas, Krejci, Stanley, 2018). For over 50 years student-athletes have been fighting to be considered employees of the



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