The time has come to pay student-athletes

College athletes who have full rides are sometimes left without other necessities. This is an issue that may be exploiting these athletes. (Dayna/Flickr, Creative Commons)

On Feb. 15, 2018 Dr. Ellen Staurowsky, a master’s student at Drexel University, came to UConn to discuss the anti-sex discrimination law for education called Title IX. According to the U.S. Code, Title IX states that “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

One main point of discussion that arose during Staurwosky’s lecture was the exploitation of student-athletes by universities. Staurwosky first became interested in the topic when she was first going into university. Title IX was just coming around and Staurwosky was shocked to learn that female athletes in college had less opportunities available to them compared to their male counterparts.

This brings us to the age-old question: should student-athletes be paid for their contributions? Currently under NCAA rules they cannot be. While Staurwosky doesn’t have a solution, she does say they deserve something for contributions and also takes issue with the term student-athlete. She feels that they are more like student-workers and like all workers they deserve compensation.

Thinking of student-athletes as student-workers brings up an interesting point. University employees do their jobs in order to make things better or easier in some capacity. At UConn, they are certainly doing that. In 2016, the UConn athletic department made 79,229,275 dollars in total revenue. Just under $44,000,000 of that was earned revenue, which includes ticket sales, contributions, licensing, and other fees. The rest of those funds consisted of mostly a university subsidy as well as student fees.

A very common argument against paying college athletes is their scholarships allowing them to basically go to college for free. Except not all college athletes get scholarships and not all athletes who get a scholarship actually get a full ride. In fact only football, men’s and women’s basketball and women’s volleyball is dictated by the NCAA to give full scholarships to players. In other sports, a coach may choose to divide up a full scholarship in order to attract more players.

College athletes who have full rides are sometimes left without other necessities. Everyone remembers Shabazz Napier’s famous interview ahead of the 2014 National Championship game. He expressed concern that the university was profiting off “no-name” jersey sales, while some athletes don’t have time to eat because they are practicing and attending class all the time. By the time they are able to eat, the dining halls are closed, and not all student-athletes have the money to cover outside food.

Additionally not all student-athletes actually finish their degrees before graduating. In recent memory, both Cyle Larin (men’s soccer) and Daniel Hamilton (men’s basketball) declared for their respective sports draft and left without completing a degree. So the whole free-college education is a wash.

The fact of the matter is, student-athletes in general contribute their entire college academic career to the university without getting much of a pay-out. They get the minimum that other, non-student-athletes get. But student-athletes are giving so much more to the university in order to help the university be better off.

Student-athletes deserve to be better compensated for the work they are doing. UConn has a duty to help out those who put in the work that brings in earned revenue to the university. At the end of the day, student-athletes are just like student-workers, and like student-workers they deserve a paycheck for the brand they are helping UConn build.