In any given year, football budgets for athletic departments in the Southeastern Conference range anywhere from 30 to over 100 million dollars. This money is used to pay coaches and cover expenses incurred by the school's football team. However, even after salaries are paid and expenses are covered, schools are usually left with millions of dollars in profit. The athletes who ultimately create this situation by participating in collegiate sports are left with nothing at the end of the season except some new Nike clothes they were given throughout the year and the promise of a free college education.
The issue of paying athletes isn't even just about football; it includes every sport. Athletes spend the majority of their time in practice, games, and class. In their free time, they just try to finish homework, study, or rest before the next day. During the season, college athletes are basically working a full-time job and attending school on top of that. There have been discussions about paying collegiate athletes for years, but there are also some advantages and disadvantages to this idea.
One of the primary advantages of paying college athletes is the belief that it would get athletes to stay in college longer instead of leaving early for a professional draft. This more directly affects football, basketball, and baseball teams because athletes often leave college after only one, two, or three years to pursue a career as a professional athlete. Many believe if they were paid during college, they would be willing to wait an extra year or more before leaving to become a professional. In addition, if athletes were receiving some compensation, they could support their families. Many division one athletes come from impoverished backgrounds and are looking to become professionals so they can help support their family. Payment during college would help some people support their family and also encourage them to get a college degree before leaving for a professional career.
Compensating college athletes could also reduce the corruption within collegiate athletics. Everyone is aware that teams pay some athletes to come to their school and play a sport. This could ultimately be stopped if payment was allowed. Another advantage of paying athletes is that it would make them adhere to higher moral standards like professional athletes. Basically, if they are going to be paid like professionals, they should act like professionals.
On the other side of this debate are the numerous disadvantages to paying athletes. One of the primary arguments is that it would be unfair to smaller colleges. Athletic departments in the SEC are obviously going to have more money to spend than programs in the American Conference, so this would create a financial divide that could become unfair. In addition, the payment of athletes could create budget problems for all athletic departments across the board. Athletic departments are adapted to just paying coaches and expenses, so this would create another area where administrators would have to find money to cover.
In regards to the athletes, there are even some disadvantages. Since they are still kids in college, payment might cause some financial irresponsibility. As a college kid myself, I can say if I was making more money I would be spending it on things I really shouldn't be buying. There's also the issue of unfair compensation among athletes. Athletic departments would have to figure out how to balance payment across every sport and among athletes on the same team without creating problems. Many also speculate on if paying college athletes would create a loss of passion for the game as it sometimes does with professional athletes.
Overall, there is no definite answer or solution to the issue of paying college athletes. Personally, I think something needs to be done by the NCAA. However, they need to be innovative with their solution to make sure it actually benefits athletes. With athletic departments and the NCAA making millions each year because of athletes, it just makes sense to take action.