Universities make millions off of their players but punish them for accepting benefits



For nearly a century the National Collegiate Athletic Association and schools across the country have been cashing in on the marketability of their student-athletes.  Schools make millions every year while only offering students scholarships.  Many of those students come from low-class neighborhoods. They cannot afford to go out to eat, get a bus ride home or even buy their own jersey on display at local stores.  Colleges and universities that generate over $15 million in annual revenue from their athletic programs should give student-athletes commission on merchandise sales and television contracts.

The proposed figure would qualify about 150 schools and give the top athletes a slice of the money they are making for the organizations that market them.  Currently, the NCAA hides behind the ‘amateur’ tag they have given student-athletes as a reason for their free labor. But at the revenue level proposed, there is nothing amateur about these athletes who endure two-a-day practices and play in primetime TV slots.  The amount of time these students devote to their sport makes it no different from any other on-campus job a student might have.

AP Photo Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel was recently suspended one-half of a game for violating the NCAA’s policy.

AP Photo Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel was recently suspended one-half of a game for violating the NCAA’s policy.

The hypocrisy in modern-day college sports has been pointed out by hundreds of people who have taken the NCAA to court over the past 20 years.  The NCAA has punished students for selling the shirt off their back, yet sell the same jersey for $40.00 in souvenir stores.  College players are not allowed to inscribe any messages on their clothes or body while competing, yet the NCAA sells spaces on their uniforms for corporate logos and slogans.  College players cannot profit from their own likeness, yet the NCAA sells the right to their name for highlight films and video games.

For all this current exploitation, the NCAA insists that they are preparing these students for the future.  But are they?  After a long call for academic reform, the NCAA recently upgraded its academic standards for student-athletes to require more core classes and a higher grade point average this year. But after accusations that schools are pushing student-athletes to be ‘General Studies’ majors, which was described by one reporter as ‘a baloney major’, it appears schools are finding loopholes. When asked to address those accusations at a press conference earlier in the year, NCAA president Mark Emmert’s answer fell flat.

“We’re an athletic association.  We don’t accredit academic institutions.  We don’t go into the classroom and say ‘we don’t like the quality of this degree.’ That’s not the job of this association,” Emmert said.

It seems no one wants to take responsibility for helping these kids who earn these people so much money.

With ugly scandals constantly breaking about college athletes getting paid by school officials and boosters, this alternative gives students a legal right to the money they are earning. Players commit so much time and risk so much for their schools, it is time the schools gave something back.


Zach Winn can be contacted at zwinn@keene-equinox.com

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