Sunday, April 20, 2014

College Players Should Get Paid, But Maybe Not Directly From Schools

If you've ever read my site, you know that I'm not a fan of the NCAA as an "organization" and I think players should be able to make money.  I've wrote this idea for a decade now and it is as hot a debate as ever.

Of course, most people see that and say, "the NCAA and the schools should pay the players for sacrificing their bodies, time and schooling so these universities can make bazillions of dollars while they make nothing."  I'm not totally in that mind.  Yes, the players sacrifice a lot of time and they cannot concentrate on their studies like a normal student due to their commitments to their sport.  Sure, students are using the sport to get an education that is worth tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars.  However, the time spent on the sport really hurts their ability to pour their studies.

That can be debated elsewhere and I see both sides of that argument.

But these kids are getting a semi-free ride to a college education.  The schools are using the sports to cash in off of television contracts.  That's where the argument seems to stay.

I don't see it totally like that.  While I'm happy that the football players at Northwestern were successful in their bid to attempt to form a union, I actually hope it doesn't happen.  I don't like thinking that college athletes would be able to collective bargain for money from the school.  It could open up a huge can of worms like ending all the progress of Title IX to causing schools to shut down entire athletic departments.  Yeah, that may be extreme, but it could be a slippery slope.

I've been more of a let-the-players-make-money kind of guy.  Forget all the rules.  Let them get theirs.  Kansas freshman Andrew Wiggins reportedly has a contract from Nike waiting for him when he announces he's "going pro".  Why can't he have that now?  Why can't he make that money now?  Why does he have to wait?  Why can the University of Kansas make money off of Wiggins' name but Wiggins can't?  Why can't any player be able to receive endorsements?

That would be my first idea for change.  Would that open up some shady dealings?  Of course.  But who cares?  I mean, what is shady dealings?  Some booster slipping a guy some money under the table?  Well, let's make it over the table.  If some car dealership in Columbus wants to give an Ohio State running back some money so he goes to their school or just stays another season ... let him!

Look at the money.  It is there.  The school isn't spending it ... those "friends of the university" are.  All those compliance rules are nearly ripped up and thrown away.  Sure, you still have to make sure the university isn't cheating like giving false grades or any normal academic scandals.  Make sure we don't have any gambling issues like point shaving or throwing games.  Maybe that gets a little harder to manage if the money is flowing a bit more ... but compliance departments will have more time to monitor that when they aren't worried that a basketball player got a tablespoon more cream cheese than he was permitted to have.

Let the agents at these guys.  Let them fall over these kids like the college coaches have to.  Let them wine and dine them.  Let them throw lavish parties and the players have a good time.

Is it the clean cut act that we've tried to convince ourselves college sports is?  No.  But it rarely ever was.

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