Opinion: College athletes get paid in other ways

Upon graduation from college, many students are buried in debt. An article from Student Loan Hero said, “The average Class of 2016 graduate has $37,172 in student loan debt, up six percent from last year.”

One way to offset this is with scholarships. They can be earned for academics, athletics or other reasons. In a way, it’s a payment for talent or merit.

An article from ListLand made the outrageous claim that “While a fully-funded degree is certainly not nothing, it is far below many athletes’ hopes and expectations. ... Paying college athletes would at least help them leave education with a little bit of money to buy them time to find a new path.”

If you go to college, you hopefully earn a degree. You may not make it into professional sports, but you got a discount on your education, and I know people who would kill for that.

To be honest, I’m awful when it comes to athletic activities. I can’t shoot a basketball, and I doubt I could even walk all the way across a balance beam without falling. However, I get paid with a scholarship for my academic performance, which I’m extremely grateful for.

I had to get a high GPA and ACT score to acquire my full-tuition scholarship, and I must maintain a 3.5 GPA to keep it. I don’t put in hours on the field, but I do put them in behind a computer or in an art studio.

One of the main arguments I hear for why collegiate athletes should be paid is that the NCAA and coaches make a lot of money, and the wealth should be shared. However, most of the articles I have read make claims that feel like a stretch.

A couple of them claim that college athletes struggle to make ends meet. I understand that because every student does.

Some articles claim that even scholarships that cover the cost of tuition, food and housing aren’t sufficient because there are other expenses in college. Again, I understand, but many students have these costs and aren’t privileged enough to have full scholarships. Furthermore, tuition, food and housing are the three highest costs that people struggle to pay.

Another claim in the ListLand article was that “a salary would help student athletes learn how to manage their money.” Athletes who get scholarships already don’t have to worry about major financial burdens. This would only teach them how to manage extra money, since they wouldn’t have to worry about paying for tuition, and in some cases, rent or food. Either way, a salary doesn’t necessarily teach people how to manage money

SUU currently has 339 student athletes. According to the NCAA, the college athletes in the football bowl subdivision put in an average of 43.3 hours each week for athletics, so if we paid them $7.25 an hour — Utah’s minimum wage — this would be just over $5,000 for a 16-week semester.

Assuming that all athletes worked this much, this would add up to about $1.7 million. SUU’s enrollment in the fall of 2015 was 8,881 students, so if this money came from student fees, each student would have to pay an additional $191.73 on top of the current $102 athletic fee. Students who don’t have scholarships likely can’t afford this extra financial burden.

If only the 140 athletes from men’s football, men’s basketball and women’s gymnastics were included, students would still have to pay $79.18. Even if we gave all athletes a $100 weekly stipend, that would add $61.07 per student to annual a fee each semester.

I could understand this more if schools made a profit. As of 2015, only 24 schools made profits from their athletic programs, according to the NCAA.

Unless the money is coming from donors who already pay for many SUU scholarships, I can’t find a way to justify paying student athletes in addition to their scholarships.

Billy Clouse is the Editor-in-Chief of the University Journal. He can be reached at bclouse@suunews.com


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