The Problem With Pay for Play in College Sports

pay for play in college

The pay for play in college sports topic is nothing new to the college sports situation. Every year you hear the two different sides make the same argument. On the one hand, people watch the National Championship and say wow, how are these players not being paid. Then on the other side, people watch and say the scholarship is enough, so they are being paid. Whether we like it or not the Pay for Play in college conversation is not going away. My take on it is that something needs to change, but I have not once seen an actual legitimate solution offered that will not ultimately change the NCAA for the worst. A lot of people make it as simple as just give the players the money they give coaches or they assume that all of these schools are just rolling in bread.

No Olympic Sports

Pay for Pay In College Sports

The very first issue with paying college athletes is that there is not enough money to pay the nonrevenue sports. I was on scholarship in school as a track and field athlete. If the NCAA switched to pay for play on the men’s side, it would be basketball and football that get paid, and everyone else would kick rocks. I get it though; most people could care less about Olympic sports because they are not the favorite sports that they care about. A lot of the times the response just to get rid of them.

From a business standpoint, Olympic sports don’t make sense because they just cost money. Which then brings up another debate are schools supposed only to do things to make money? If that is the case, then they should be fighting not to pay college athletes because it does allow them to make more money with free labor. The other thing to consider with getting rid of Olympic sports is that the different flavor of athletes on campus adds to the diversity of that school. If you cut male sports down to just football and basketball, those are the two spots where athletes leave early to get drafted. They also typically are not the highest GPA teams on campus.

Equal Pay for Women

Pay for Pay In College Sports

Because of Title IX, you also have to make things equal for women’s sports. Here is where it gets exciting and crazy. If you cut men’s sports down to football and basketball, you would have to cut a few women’s sports down to women’s basketball and a few others to make up for the vast football numbers. Do you then pay these women sports the same amount? Women’s basketball teams do not make as much as men’s team historically. They may change in the future, but right now that is the way it is. To then say that women sports will be paid even though they fit into the same category as the Olympic sports that play for a loss creates a new set of issues.


Do Players Get Agents?

Pay for Pay In College Sports

Alabama gave out 1.27M in coaching bonuses for the win. Someone else tweeted at the picture and said that if Alabama divided that bonus for the coaches between all of the players they would get 5k each. Now here is the problem I have with that. If you start paying the players, why should the guy who sat on the bench get the same amount as the QB who came into the save the day during the second half? That is not right, and that is precisely what would happen when you start paying people. It is no different than any job you have. People want to be paid more when they bring more value. Once you open up pay that is based on value, then you open the door for agents. These college-bound athletes would need to sign agents instead of the letter of intents and get their agents to negotiate the letters of intent. I am not saying that this is a problem, but a lof of the pureness of why people like college football over the NFL will be gone. College football and the NFL will look very similar; only that NFL players are better. Why watch college football at that point? The NFL players are the better professionals. It is the same reason people don’t watch the G league as much as they watch the NBA. They are both the same level of the sport, but the NBA is the better product. People love college sports right now because players play hard and they play with their schools on their back. It is the fact that they don’t get paid that makes the sport pure. I don’t care what anyone says; money complicates things. People start playing sports for love and then when the money comes in, it can steal some of that love.


What About Smaller Schools?

Pay for Pay In College Sports

The other matter that is often slept on is what about the schools that are not University of Texas, Alabama and all the other high revenue football programs? Some would say get rid of sports for everyone not in the Power 5. What sucks about all of this is that the number of opportunities that college sports offer help to change lives. It gives people a reason to go to high school every day. You start taking all of these possibilities away, and it means that you can either go to a power five school for football or basketball as a male or you don’t play sports after high school. Does that sound like a sporting world that people want? For some, it might be but I think you are a losing a lot more history then you think. There will be no more small schools to upset these huge schools because they don’t have the money to pay players. You could keep the schools by saying that the smaller schools don’t have to pay them, but then it is entirely unfair competition. You can’t have amateurs competing against professionals and expect any competition.


Say Goodbye to USA Dominance at the Olympics

Pay for Pay In College Sports

The USA is so dominant in Olympic sports because of the NCAA system. Take a guy like a wrestler Jordon Boroughs. He is a start because of his Olympic dominance, but he got his start at the University of Nebraska. You take away his four years of wrestling at Nebraska and how exactly does he become the best wrestler in the world? The NCAA is where the USA gets it Olympic athletes for track and field, swimming, wrestling, and so many more sports. If you kiss away Olympic sports, you are kissing away the USA chances of winning the medal haul. It would take years to set up a separate structure that would allow athletes to get the proper training, coaching, and facilities they need to replicate the NCAA. Where would the money come from to pay coaches for any new programs? Though I represented Canada, I made the 2012 Olympic team as a junior in college. After coming home from London, I had to finish my senior year. If you take away the opportunity to compete in the NCAA, I guarantee you that I never make an Olympic team. I would have run high school track, and then I probably would have finished my career there. The path to making an Olympic team would be a lot more confusing and foggy.


The Benefits of a Scholarship Are Real

Pay for Pay In College Sports

Scholarships are of a lot of value. Let’s not get confused by this for one second. It goes beyond just the scholarship that you receive. I had broken down the cost of my five years at Iowa State, and it came out to around $268,000. That is about $53,600 per year. Not bad pay at all, I would say. The reason people miss this is that they don’t factor in all of the costs. People tend to just look at the actual scholarship, but there is so much more you get. -Tuition-Room and Board-Plan tickets -Bus tickets-Perdium-Practice Gear-Equipment -Gifts -Access to Facilities -Coaching-Medical Treatment-Tutoring -Academic Planning The list of services goes on and on, and people forget these things cost money. To say athletes get nothing for being in the NCAA is crazy. We have students graduating from college with more than ever. Not all student-athletes get full scholarships, but everything helps with the amount of student debt out there.


No Great Solutions Offered

It may sound like I am for not paying college athletes. I think there is a problem, but I just don’t hear great solutions being offered to go about schools paying each athlete for playing the sport. I do believe there is a massive problem though. I can’t imagine what it is like to be a football player that is making my school a tonne of money and yet I can barely afford to buy stuff on my own. Only a small percentage of people get that pay of making the NFL. The rest damage their bodies and give their all and never get that huge payout. Here is my solution…

Let the Players Make Money With Their Name

Pay for Pay In College Sports

When I was at Iowa State as a track athlete, a donor wanted to take me out to eat and he could not because it was against the rules. That makes no sense! If a guy was good at math, and I wanted to take him out, I could, but I could not do the same for an athlete.I think they need to allow players to use their names and social media to do what they want. It is a free market, and they should not be restricted. If some supplement company wants to work with individual college athletes, let them. If athletes want to grow their own social media channels and monetize them, they should be able to.If you do things this way, the system does not change at all for the schools, and they have less compliance crap to monitor. Athletes can think more entrepreneurial and think of how they can use their name to make money. It will make some athletes a lot of money; some athletes would get very little if anything and there would still be a list of other issues you gotta monitor. But you know what you erase this black market of donors who hook basketball and football players up anyway. Everyone knows this is happening, but it just stays on the low. It is time for the NCAA to get real about this topic.



  • Paying athletes will hurt Olympic sports 
  • Will hurt USA Olympic team
  • Players will need agents and that will complicate things
  • Let the players make money with their name 

What are your thoughts? Leave a comment below and let us know!

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