NCAA student-athletes should be paid


Courtesy of Wiki Commons

Noam Jacobovitz

With the National College Athletic Association (NCAA) Tournament taking place, I am reminded yet again that the NCAA is making upwards of $900 million from the event, with about 90 percent coming from TV revenue. Yet the players get nothing. Well, not exactly nothing. Receiving gear, travel, and food counts for something, but it’s not the same as being paid. The NCAA is listed as a non-profit, yet brought in revenues of $1.06 billion. And the president of this “non-profit,” Mark Emmert, makes more than $1.9 million a year.

Each of the commissioners of the Power Five conferences (Pac-12, Big 10, ACC, SEC, Big 12) make up to double Emmert’s pay. Football and basketball are the biggest money makers in college sports, but the NCAA’s revenue does not reflect profit from football at the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) level, but instead, the conferences and Notre Dame split it. The college football playoffs, which is made up of only three games, results in a profit of $600 million per year. The 125 FBS schools take home $70 million on average just from those games. The majority of the schools are making significant profits off of athletics year after year.

Although the logistics of paying athletes are difficult, the answer is simple. Athletes, especially football and basketball players, are missing huge chunks of the school year, whether it be for the NCAA Tournament or a bowl Game. Players should receive an equal share of the television money for their respective sport and game. Most obviously, players should be able to sell their likeness. Schools have made money off advertising players for so long, but when a player advertises themselves they get in trouble.

Notably, former Texas A&M quarterback and Heisman-winner Johnny Manziel was suspended for allegedly selling his autograph for money that amounted up to a few thousand dollars. Texas A&M brought home $211 million in athletic revenue this past fiscal year. Former UCF kicker Donald De La Haye was ruled ineligible just last year because he refused to demonetize his YouTube channel, resulting in him losing his scholarship. Both of these examples violated NCAA bylaw 12.4.4, “[an athlete] may establish his or her own business, provided the student-athlete’s name, photograph, appearance or athletics reputation are not used to promote the business.”

The NCAA is being completely irrational because any other student could promote a business and make money off of it, but student-athletes making billions upon billions for schools, conferences, and the NCAA cannot even promote themselves the way their schools do.

In an extremely shocking occurrence, the NCAA, which brought home upwards of $1 billion this past fiscal year, ruled former Baylor running back Silas Nacita permanently ineligible in 2015 for accepting housing and food from a family friend while he was homeless.

These stories are just the tip of the iceberg and it is obvious that by not allowing student-athletes to sell their likeness, whether it be by making a YouTube channel or selling autographs, the NCAA is making student-athletes different than other students.

A pianist on an academic scholarship could perform in a band and make money by selling tickets, but athletes making billions for schools and the “non-profit” that is the NCAA, could not sell their own autograph because that would be in violation of NCAA regulations.