NCAA athletes are unpaid employees

NCAA athletes are unpaid employees

When refusing to pay athletes, NCAA states that they simply want to maintain amateur status in college sports and not compromise the integrity of the game.

Is keeping the integrity of the game really the goal for the NCAA or are there other, less righteous incentives for the organization to not pay its athletes?

The NCAA is a $10 billion “nonprofit” association. How can such an organization be considered a nonprofit? A recent investigation of stand-out running back Leonard Fournette of Louisiana State University illustrates the absurdity of this nonprofit-making label. Fournette’s family set up an online business, intending to sell their star’s merchandise for profit.

Even without evidence of the family making any money, the nonsensical investigation nonetheless began. It would be absurd to ban or suspend Fournette for a violation his family committed, so why would the NCAA back such a fruitless investigation?

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This situation and other odd investigations organized by the NCAA all share a common goal. This goal is maintaining its status as a “nonprofit” organization.

By maintaining this status, the NCAA cannot be subject to monopoly laws, or any other forms of investigation, since they have this title to protect them.

Nonprofit, however, does not mean that the industry cannot be profitable. The NCAA recently signed a contract with CBS sports for $10.8 billion. The chairman of the NCAA made $1.7 million in 2013.

Leonard Fournette’s life story makes this investigation upsetting. Fournette lived through Hurricane Katrina in the roughest part of New Orleans. A down-trodden family’s effort to make money was immediately halted by the NCAA.

What if Fournette were to have a career-ending injury, stopping any chance to make money in the NFL, after not being allowed to profit on his own last name in college? 

College athletes are full-time employees for their schools. In the NCAA March Madness tournament, students miss close to a quarter of their spring classes.

There has always been the argument that athletes are just students. So why do they miss classes for nationally televised games which bring in revenue? College athletes bring in more than revenue for the school.

An example of such an occurrence is the 1982-1983 season of Patrick Ewing. The seven-foot-tall, 240-pound force in the paint was one of the most efficient scoring centers in the history of college basketball.

This dominant season for the big man brought attention to his school, Georgetown University, resulting in a 47 percent increase in undergraduate applications, and a 40-point increase in SAT scores. As a result, the university was able to be more selective.

Smarter students enrolling in the school greatly helped Georgetown become a top-20 school in the country today. This outcome was a direct result of Patrick Ewing and Georgetown basketball in the 1980s.

Though there seems to be ample reasons for why college athletes should be paid, there are an equivalent number of counter arguments against this subjective viewpoint.

Some athletes do receive a free education for representing their school athletically.

These athletes do not have to pay for books, housing or meal plans. The most serious argument, however, is what structure would be used to pay the athletes? Would bigger schools pay students more than smaller schools? Would sports considered of greater importance be paid more than other sports?

Would the pay be based on the revenue the sports bring in?

Should a women’s lacrosse player who sees very little television time be paid the same as a football player playing in a National Championship in front of over 30 million viewers?

This ambiguity unfortunately forces even the strongest advocates for paying college players to admit that there are too many gray areas for payment of athletes to ever materialize.

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