In the year of 2017, the NCAA has generated a 1 billion dollar profit. With this news, the call to pay student-athletes is now stronger than ever.
However, many student athletes are already paid…through benefits such as tuition, meal plans and housing. While some arguments are logical—to provide student-athletes with salaries—it is really through the expansion of these said benefits where the NCAA should aim to improve their athletes’ lives. Not through any form of salary or cash.
The first thing the NCAA should do is keep making money.
The ideas outlined below are dependent on the NCAA having enough money. While, yes, the people making decisions in college sports are paid more than they should, if the NCAA can keep increasing it’s revenue at the rate it has the past few years, it can help athletes and their families in a very positive way.
The next course of action for the NCAA should be in giving more money to the schools which are affiliated with it. While the actual numbers would need to be ironed out, it should not be that difficult to take hundreds of millions of dollars and give portions back to the colleges/universities that are helping the NCAA make it. Having the schools control more of the income would allow the schools to do the following: solve problems that are too unique for the NCAA to solve, provide more comprehensive benefits for athletes and their families, and finally, improve the school and community as a whole.
Restrictions on the schools should be clear from the NCAA. It should prohibit any form of salary or material gift giving to athletes. This would include providing cash, cars or even houses to athletes. With that said, give the schools latitude and perhaps a board that can approve benefits. Even with a salary being illegal, there will be plenty of benefits a player can and should receive. For example, this board could allow a football team to purchase 10 cars that players can borrow throughout the week. This would solve the problem of a player not having a car for transportation, without giving him a vehicle as payment.
While schools will undoubtedly be creative in giving potential benefits to players with this money from the NCAA, the benefits should be approved so long as they are not in cash. They must also improve the lives of the players or their families, the school, or the community.
Such latitude would allow schools to offer scholarships for a player’s siblings or parents. An example of this would be a top recruit getting offered the current norm of “a full ride” as well being offered one additional full scholarship to any one family member. Considering that the person receiving the other scholarship would most likely attend the university for four years, this would be a huge financial commitment from the school, as well as a way to improve the player’s family. In the end, is it really such a bad thing for more people to be educated? It isn’t like this would be unaffordable to NCAA (see the first line where the NCAA made 1 billion in profit last year,) and it is a simple way to make the world a better place.
Other benefits which schools could provide through their money from the NCAA could be incentive-based. For example, if a team qualifies for its conference championship, the school can pay for the attendance of the players’ parents or other family members. This is a small expense in the grand scheme of things and would provide the athlete something he or she undoubtedly wants. Other incentive programs could be tied to the school or even the athlete’s high school. If a player or team achieves whatever goal the athletic director or coach sets out, the player or team could choose a specific form of scholarship which the board would allow. Some players would choose to provide X amount to a friend’s tuition bill. Others might choose to send money to their high school football or academic programs. Instead of a reward of cash to the athlete, this benefit would ensure two quality things: first, it would allow the student to feel as if the value they are bringing to the school is being utilized how they want. Secondly, the benefit of this system is that it would provide money to areas of need when it may seem otherwise, wasted. Many athletes would send money to their high school programs, which might not seem needed for sports such as football or basketball, but could keep programs such as cross country or tennis afloat. Some athletes would even provide the money to their high school programs such as band, theater or any of the other seemingly underfunded programs in today’s education system.
Some people may see these alternatives as ways for schools to be corrupt, instead of simply the NCAA. However, there should be ways to prevent corruption. By making a board of both administrators and student athletes who are in their fourth year of college athletics, the NCAA can quickly and effectively approve benefits that a school would like to provide. Another key to this proposal is that it gives the athletes the power to decide where revenue goes. When people make the case for paying college athletes, it is usually with the basis that the athletes are not being paid “what they deserve” or what they “earn” the NCAA. The plan listed above places a lot of power with the athletes. If one truly believes that our best and brightest are student athletes, this is not the worst thing for our country. While there will have to be monitoring for corruption or illegal activity, these things are already happening in abundance in the current system. It is time for a change.