OPINION:Should College Athletes be Paid?

By: Jonathan Kermah

In 2015, The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) brought in a revenue of $912.3 million, but none of the money received went directly into students’ or their families’ pockets. Yes, NCAA athletes often receive full rides to the colleges they attend but is that an equal trade off?


College athletes are not professionals. They are student athletes, and like the term “student athlete,” student should come before the athlete part. When in college, athletics is not a job; it’s a hobby and should be treated as such.

By paying students for what is essentially a hobby, colleges are giving off the impression that athletes are more special than students doing other hobbies such as drama, newspapers and band. Many colleges and institutions receive income from their sports programs but that should not make them better than other activities around the school.

The argument can be made that athletes are already being paid in scholarships. Many student athletes are given the opportunity to receive full rides or some form of discount on college tuition. Should that not be enough? Instead of having to pay thousands of dollars for an education, they have the opportunity to receive that education for free.


NCAA athletes give up large amounts of their time to a sport. Their dedication to practice and conditioning is comparable to having a job. Some colleges ban their athletes from having a job during the season, and even if it is not prohibited it is pretty much impossible with the amount of time spent in the gym or on the field.

Student athletes have no opportunities to create a source of income but the NCAA takes full advantage by profiting off the athletes. The common argument against paying athletes is that the school doesn’t make money off the players because they don’t really sell the players’ names. They do not use student athlete’s names but they clearly profit off them.

While student athletes don’t really have the opportunities to make money, the NCAA is making their money off the backs of the athletes. The athletes are the product. Without the athletes there are no games, no ticket sales, and certainly not a massive television deal.

Online, NCAA fans are able to purchase different items of clothing such as sweatpants, T-shirts, and the most popular items – jerseys, which never have the name of players, but fans have the option to customize them and it is very common to replicate the jersey of a college athlete on the team. Merchandise is a small producer of income for the NCAA, but it is still money athletes are not receiving a proportion of.

The NCAA claims to be a nonprofit organization but coaches are receiving multimillion dollar deals. Michigan’s football head coach Jim Harbaugh is paid five million per year. With all the money being thrown around, why can’t the student athletes receive some sort of income?


There are valid points to each side of the debate. Often the athletes and the pro-payment supporters overlook the cost of education being paid for but at the same time, coaches are receiving millions while the athlete might struggle to eat three square meals a day.

If student athletes were paid, it should be divided up evenly. The amount per athlete doesn’t need to be life changing, just enough for students to be able to pay for food and enjoy themselves on weekends. With a near billion dollar income, the NCAA should be able to compensate the athletes a little, but maybe, a degree should suffice.