Scholarship student-athletes deserve bigger stipends
Published: Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, September 10, 2013 22:09
There are many talented students on a college campus. They range from student government leaders to graphic designers, musicians to mechanical engineers, academic scholars to newspaper editors and beyond. Each individual may bring uniqueness to his or her respective field, the amount of potential they demonstrate may marshal special treatment of some kind, but one particular form of talented college students have a much different experience from the rest: athletes.
You likely know what we mean.
Last week, the subject of college athletes graced the cover of Time magazine. “It’s Time to Pay College Athletes,” the story is called, and it has enflamed an ongoing debate.
Some schools have vocalized their intent to provide at least an extra $2,000 stipend to athletes on scholarship. We feel this is the change that must occur.
The NCAA has a clear rule regarding the players: They are not allowed to make money off of their names.
Some feel it is a worthy regulation – it protects the sanctity of the game, the integrity and nature of amateur sports. Some feel it is absurd. Others – like us – feel only some aspects of the current situation need to be altered.
College athletes deserve more money for their time and the revenue they bring in to their universities. But to open the doors for them to sell their autographs or sign advertising contracts would open the floodgates of corruption. It would muddy the waters and blur the lines between collegiate and professional sports.
The recent surge in this debate was prompted from an incident this summer. Johnny Manziel (sometimes referred to as “Johnny Football”) allegedly accepted payments for his autographs. The NCAA couldn’t prove it, but he was suspended for half a game.
What became the more prevalent question for many wasn’t whether he did, but “why shouldn’t he?”
This question has provoked a variety of reactions – skepticism and distrust, sympathy and support, apprehension and ambivalence. It has induced a conversation over whether it is time for a change in collegiate athletics.
Everyone remembers Tim Tebow. It was hard to miss him. We were inundated with pictures of him in magazines, clips of him on television. For a time, he was a celebrity as prominent as Madonna. But perhaps what many people don’t know is a story of how he couldn’t afford to buy his mother a Christmas present.
Many college athletes understand their participation in a sport as a way to an education. If they play, they can earn a scholarship – it enables them to get a degree that may otherwise be financially unfeasible.
Playing a college sport can be a full-time job – and for some, it is even more than a full-time job. UB athletes talk to us often about how much time their team involvement consumes. It diminishes their capacity to earn extra income with a part-time job.
And yet, some aren’t even receiving full scholarships. They are still taking out student loans. And most won’t go pro. Only one sport – baseball – has more than 2 percent of NCAA players reach the professional level, according to Business Insider. Most athletes are facing the same job market as the rest of us.
Some have said that college athletes should be able enjoy the profits their universities reap because of them.
Texas A&M University advertises Manziel merchandise (jerseys with his number but not his name) to a level you would think they are changing their school color to green. What happens at some big football and basketball schools is pure exploitation. And the universities need to take responsibility for it.
We understand that certain athletes could be making a lot more, but we think the lavish world of media advertisement and mass-market products would tarnish the games.
What student-athletes need is more money for living expenses. The time burden and workload college athletes face as full-time students is exorbitant. Not to mention, many athletes come from low-income backgrounds. They need money to help them get through college.
Each university should have team-specific set stipends. The athletic culture is different at each school and the stipend system should vary accordingly.
But some still think that is not enough.
Congress has recently agreed to consider this matter. A bill has been introduced to give players more rights to earn money off of their names.
College athletes should be able to make money over their own likeness, in theory, but we’re hoping lawmakers will consider the thin line between more player protections and manufactured corruption.
They should be protected in that universities should compensate them for their time and work. And the revenue they bring in shouldn’t necessarily go unrecognized, either.
But any change that goes toward recognizing the evolving experience of college athletics must not corrupt the very environment it is trying to improve.