College athletes should be compensated


Graphic by Sarah Morgan

Chiara Purificato

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) makes a heaping $1 billion a year, profiting a tremendous amount off of its student-athletes. The athletes on D1 teams aren’t paid, but they should be because they dedicate their lives to the sport and the team, commit as if it is a full-time job, and are the reason for a majority of the NCAA’s revenue.

Although athletes at D1 collegiate levels make the choice to play voluntarily, they sacrifice many things that come with a normal college experience, such as parties and going home over breaks. They tailor their academic schedules around their sports practices, games, and tournaments and follow very strict diets and daily routines, all to comply with the expectations of their teams. 

Athletes miss school and classes for conferences, they put their body through hours of strenuous workouts day after day, and they can push themselves past their physical and mental capacities. They bounce back and forth between the field or the court, the weight room, and the trainer. At the end of the day, while being a college athlete is still considered an extracurricular, it is more like a full-time job. 

Many D1 athletes across different sports have become household names around the nation, they have built up their image and status, attracting attention used for the advertisement of the school (and sport). Their names and images are used, and in addition, many of them have garnered a huge social media following which also provides free advertisement. The success of individual athletes on collegiate sports teams may attract prospective students to the school, as many take into consideration the record, or success of the sports teams when deciding on a college. If a team has a very successful season/conference, it could persuade incoming students and athletes, which benefits the university.

As much as can be credited to the coaches and trainers, the bottom line is that the athletes are the ones executing. Athletes are the ones who put in the work to get the results. While coaches can be super involved, supportive, and acclaimed, they are not the ones playing. Coaches deserve tremendous credit, giving everything to their teams, training their athletes, implementing strategies and plans, and acting as mentors. It seems unfair though, that when teams are successful, win tournaments or championship games or break records, coaches receive tremendous bonuses, while the student-athletes receive nothing in compensation.

D1-A schools, on average, bring in approximately $55 million yearly on behalf of various sports, the majority of the money coming from football. For example, in 2019, March Madness generated $933 million in revenues. Teams bring in tremendous profit, but much of this money is not only not going to athletes but often not even going back to the athletic programs/teams that earn it. The athletes who actually achieve these accomplishments that bring in the money should be allocated at least a portion of it. If the NCAA and other companies and associations are profiting off of the success of collegiate athletes, then it makes sense that these elite athletes should be cut into some of the profit.

Some people argue that college athletes should not get paid as they are already (in some cases) getting all or part of their tuition paid for through scholarships, which they say is payment enough. It is true that receiving an education from any university is a privilege, and having the price covered is an extremely beneficial opportunity for student-athletes. But there is no reason why they should not receive some additional pay. Athletes are not the only students to receive scholarships, as some students receive merit-based and need-based scholarships. So these athletes who work hard all season for the success that brings in money for their school should see some of it in return. 

The extra money could make up for the money they would be making if they were able to have a part-time job, which they are not because of their commitment to and prioritization of their sport. Because student-athletes cannot get a part-time job, they don’t have an expendable income to spend on food, clothes, and other necessities and luxuries that other students have the ability to buy.

When quantifying achievements and assigning pay for different athletes and different sports and teams, there should be an upfront fixed rate for all collegiate athletes. There could be some fluctuation in additional bonuses for the more successful teams, or athletes bringing in the most money, but the bottom line is that they should get paid. •