Proposal For Paying Players

Submitted by derpDerpDerp on March 22nd, 2011 at 12:51 AM

I've generally been staunchly against paying players on the reasoning that a college education is payment. Lately I've been coming around, but still don't like the idea of professional-izing college athletes.

I haven't seen a proposal like this, so I'm not sure if it's been discussed before, but: why not put money in a trust fund for every year a player actively participates in a sport which can only be claimed with a college degree? The players still wouldn't be paid in college, but would have the ability to get some starting-out money once they've graduated.

Granted, schools would be encouraged more so than now to shuffle players through a 4 year degree, but there's worse things in life.



March 22nd, 2011 at 1:06 AM ^

It sounds good on paper, but the athletes that are complaining now want the money now.  The high profile athletes you hear about are likely going to make way more than what a "trust fund" would offer, and those staying for 4 years with no hope of fame or fortune will likely benefit from the degree just as much as the set aside fund. 

EDIT: I'm really against paying college athletes fwiw. I mentioned this in another thread, but maybe we should look at removing age restirctions for nfl and nba and offering other pro development leagues if these kids need the money.   I'm against restructuring amateur athletics


March 22nd, 2011 at 11:18 AM ^

add $$$, you add corruption.  There are so many factors that are not considered; factors that are unfathomable on paper.  When money enters the picture, it's like a whole new world.  The added corruption would consume some of these athletes. 

Just a couple examples off the top:  What happens when an athlete gets caught (and admits to using $ from institution) buying illegal drugs?  What if a player at UNLV gambles it all away?  What if players start getting involved with Bookies, gambling on games and point shaving, Boosters adding to pockets???

Playing Devil's Advocate here...but paid athletes would bring a whole other level we do not want to get involved in. 

Please note, I understand the benefits and why it would be practical, however in my opinion, the negative outweighs the positive by a long shot.



March 22nd, 2011 at 1:04 AM ^

One of the biggest points made is that many athletes come from economically challenged homes and need help paying for food and living. What good does it do them if they dont have any money during college? 

One point that I havent really heard, is that as a D-1 student athlete, you are practicing 20 hours a week and then you add the time spent with the trainers, getting to and from practice, stretching (shhh dont tell) and that is probably close to 25 hours per week that every other student can use to get a part time job if they so choose. This is not an option for a student athlete so if anything, I think student athletes should get paid a small sum of money each semester based on practice time. So, in season when practice times are heavy athletes would get (hypothetical) 7$/hr of practice giving them some money to eat out or go to the movies (a point brought up by Jalen Rose in the Fab 5 doc). 



March 22nd, 2011 at 1:16 AM ^

Please point me to the "part-time job" a non-athlete college student can take 25 hrs a week that will allow them to pay $25,000+ a year for tuition, plus room and board, plus a pile of high-end athletic gear to wear around, all allowing them to graduate debt-free in 4 years.

Then post it on here - I'm sure you'll get several thousand applications.


March 22nd, 2011 at 11:11 AM ^

I agree with you, but keep in mind that smaller schools don't charge as much for tuition. If they worked at a minimum-wage job ($8ish/hour) for the number of hours they put into football (40-60/week) for 50 weeks, that equates to $16-36k, which would cover a lot of the expenses that you mention if the player attended a smaller university.

Maximinus Thrax

March 22nd, 2011 at 8:24 AM ^

They do get help with food/living.  See the free dorms with cafeterias serving three squares plus training table meals.


As an eighteen year old coming out of high school, there are not too many jobs that will pay you enough to help out your family.  It is hard enough to find a good job with a four year degree.  By receiving an education, many athletes are getting the best chance they will receive to help their families.  How many college football players will end up earning significant money in the NFL?  My guess (somebody help me with the statistics) is a very small percentage.  Yet, we are supposed to pay all college football players because a handful are good enough to make the claim that they could play now in the NFL (but do not because of entry restrictions) so pay them now while they are in college?  I am not sold.


March 22nd, 2011 at 11:37 AM ^

Just an off the cuff calculation, if you figure there about 25 seniors on a team and there are roughly 120 teams in Division IA, that means you have about 3000 division IA players that are eligible.  I'm not sure how many Division IAA teams there, but I'm gonna guess the numbers are about comparable, so that adds another 3000 players eligible for the draft.  The draft has 7 spots times 32 teams meaning, every year the NFL will pick 224 people in the draft.  So you are talking about 224 out of roughly 6000 players that even make the NFL.  Of that 224, maybe 30 of them get an immediate big contract.  Maybe another 100 get big contracts as they get better, so you are talking about maybe a 130 out of 6000 that might realize the big NFL payouts which is roughly 2% out of a given class.  Now, if you start talking about players that the NFL would actually consider since they don't pick out of the entire graduating class, the numbers get even worse.


March 22nd, 2011 at 1:09 AM ^

If you want to get paid, get a job or go pro.

Only reason these kids just out of college are on TV and adored is because of their affiliation with the school. Without the schools they have no platform to stand on.

If it was financially viable, NFL would have a minor league system to take kids out of high school, but it isn't, so they rely on free development system from NCAA.

And if minor league for NFL is not financially viable, there is no reason for NCAA to be pressured into paying the players.


March 22nd, 2011 at 12:36 PM ^

The counterpoint is that it isn't financially viable because the NCAA undercuts costs by exploiting the labor force.

I'm not in favor of the schools paying the athletes, but that's the reason the NFL doesn't sponsor minor league systems like the NHL and the MLB do.


March 22nd, 2011 at 1:23 AM ^

Won't work. The star students who are on the take now will still take $1000 handshakes from boosters etc. because they are greedy and feel entitled to it. Hell, they'll probably feel better about taking the illegal cash because everyone is getting paid, and no one is buying Joe Benchwarmer's jersey.

Let's be serious here - there are a few athletes who really do need to "help their families" but it's not like tats and loaner 'vettes are putting food in Mama Pryor's mouth. The kind of person who gets handed free tuition to the kind of school they'd otherwise never get a chance to attend, all because they won the genetic lottery and were gifted with athletic talent in a sport Americans like to watch, and still feels "cheated" is not the sort who will be satisfied with a couple hundred bucks of spending money.

Maximinus Thrax

March 22nd, 2011 at 7:25 AM ^

Cam Newton most likely would not have foregone the $180,000 or whatever it was (hopefully we will find out someday) in order to have to wait four years to receive $20,000 or however much the OP suggests.  In suggesting pay for play scenarios, we are really just trying to acccomodate the Newtons, Pryors, and (Reggie) Bushes of the world.  The only reason we discuss it is because these guys took boatloads of $$, or tattoos or rent or whatever.  Denard does not appear to have come from a family of means, but you don't see him whining about how he needs to "help his family".  I came from a lower middle class family, but nobody was shedding any tears for me when I was at M and could not help them.


March 22nd, 2011 at 12:40 PM ^

I'm for players being able to make money on their own, and I don't consider Bush or Newton a factor. I philosophically believe that the NCAA wage restrictions on athletes, especially during the offseason, are wrong. 

FWIW though, I do think you're right about most of the "helping my family" is BS. Maybe for someone in as desperate poverty as Jalen apparently was, but I would bet the majority of the athletes in the NCAA have families who can put good food on the table, and have a fairly stable housing situation.


March 22nd, 2011 at 1:51 AM ^

I do not know the stats of how many med students that do research for the benefit of the Unversity are there on scholarship, but I would take the wild guess that, the percenatage of people in Med school on scholarship, is not as great as the number of athletes on scholarship. My point with that statement, is that, the Med students are making money for the University and many of them are running on either savings that their parents stashed away for them, or student loans. They are paying for the opportunity to make someone else a lot of money. How about the women's volleyball team, basketball team, wrestlers, and any and all other athletes. I remember Mack Brown saying about a year ago that there were only 4 or 5 schools that actually made money the year prior. You cannot pay the football team unless you are prepared to pay all of the student athletes equally. It would be nice to see but I don't think it can happen in the system that we have.


March 22nd, 2011 at 2:09 AM ^

Remember, if you start paying players, then the athletic departments will have to cut other sports.  Most D1 schools operate at a loss on athletics, so in order to compete with the Michigans of the world the Indianas would have to cut some non-revenue sports.

They don't struggle any more than your average student anyway.  Most players end up sharing apartments off campus, just like many of us did.  Only we were paying tuition and room and board out of our own pockets or with loans.

"College athletes receive housing stipends intended to cover room and board expenses as part of their full scholarships -- stipends based on what it would cost to live on campus.

The NCAA says scholarship athletes are free to live off campus and spend their housing stipends however they want."


March 22nd, 2011 at 2:20 AM ^

Staying on campus in the dorms is actually pretty expensive - if they are truly being paid the "dorm rate", they could easily get a cheaper apartment off campus, live reasonably frugally (training table would help), and end up with a bit of spending cash. Not bad at all. Not to mention the free health care and personal training.

And let's not forget - these kids get paid to play football. Sure it's hard work and sometimes dangerous. So is delivering pizzas to drunk frat boys at 2:00 AM. I know which one I'd rather do... (hint: it's the one that pays better, but is also the only one I'd do for free)


March 22nd, 2011 at 3:03 AM ^

how much this stipend actually is.  When I was a student, I know that the financial aid department calculated what they thought was the average cost of living, which included rent, books, and a bit of miscellaneous costs.  They then added this number to the tuition to figure out the total cost, and this number is what they based their loan and grant allocations on.  In my time there, whatever I didn't get in grants I took out in loans up to the max number they calculated.  With this amount I was able to get by just fine in my 4 years without ever feeling like I was living in poverty.  I wouldn't have been able to support a family or anything, but I got by just fine on my own. 

I guess my point is this... if this housing stipend is based off the same number that the financial aid department uses for all other students, they will get by just fine if they're resposible.  Adding a little but more of a stipend might curb some of the $100 handshakes (or at least give the NCAA grounds for stiff penalties if kids ignore the rules), but it isn't going to stop the Cam Newtons of the world from taking huge loans from agents and boosters. 


March 22nd, 2011 at 2:28 AM ^

Let's make a very conservative estimate here - someone with more time can come up with better numbers later.

Say every football player works out / practices / plays 40hrs a week (much more than is officially allowed) for 4 months - September-December. At 16 weeks, that's 640hrs. Out-of-state tuition alone is $25,000. Let's assume spring ball covers room and board.

$25,000 spread over 640 hrs works out to $39.06 an hour. How many students make that much? Hell, how many non-college graduates make that much period?


March 22nd, 2011 at 1:11 PM ^

If you count the 20hrs/week they spend in the offseason working out or watching film on their own, that number drops in half to ~18 an hour. Given their unique skill set, I'd say that's pretty comperable to others at the university (eg medical residents, GSI's, research assistants).

I think the scholarship is a good bargain for 99.9% of athletes, but I also think the other .1% should be free to make money outside of school.


March 22nd, 2011 at 2:14 PM ^

Or keep them in the college game but let them make a few bucks selling shoes or making appearances at auto dealerships over the summer or something.

They have the money they want, the school isn't on the line for paying them, or having to pay non-revenue athletes and there are no federal concerns because the players are doing this individually. It wouldn't be hard to regulate either, IMO.


March 22nd, 2011 at 7:48 AM ^

With the labor issues in the NFL, the ridiculous contracts in baseball and the NBA, paying college athletes is a slippery slope that most want to avoid.  Once you start paying them,  the $$ will just go up and up until they are making more money than the joe on the street.

Agents are just dying for this to happen. It would change the entire college athletics landscape.  If the players get paid, the guarantee that players in the SEC get paid more and those schools that are covering up wrong doings (OSU, SEC, USC, etc) will only create one more way to stay in front of the "law abiding" schools.  The separation between the haves and the havenots will only get bigger.

In short, nothing good can come of this.

st barth

March 22nd, 2011 at 10:37 AM ^

It's more than just a slippery slope.  It is literally the end of college sports as we know them.  A scenario in which public institutions of education are fielding professional sports teams will never happen.

The economics of professional sports are often less than solid and it's why most good teams are supported by bilionaires with money to burn.  Universities (especially cash-strapped public universities) can not and will not play this game.

Addtiionally, it changes more than the "entire college athletics landscape."  It also changes the entire professional sports landscape as well.  If a college is able to invest in a professional athlete, then they will want to receive a tangible return on that investment.  And if the stakes are high enough, then they will not be inclined to just let that investment walk off to the NFL after 4 years.  That is to say that if schools are paying for talent (such a Newton or Bush who have had significant on-field impacts) then they will also be competing with the likes of the NFL to retain that talent.

Moreover, the student athlete who desires to be paid for performance may believe it is in his best interest...until he suddenly has a bad year and is cut.  Broke, uneducated, with limited job prospects and suddenly unloved by the masses, maybe then he'll reconsider his fortune.  And to think, some of these student-athletes have the audacity to complain of exploitation now.  Just wait to hear howls if the real world of economic realities is introduced into college sports.

King Douche Ornery

March 22nd, 2011 at 11:16 AM ^

Whatever facade is still left for college sports being about "student" athletes would be gone. The guys get a four-year free ride with which to, besides play a sport, get an education. 

I agree with the point on what to do with the guys who end up being 'busts"--the five star who washes out? Then, what about the "walk-on"--my guess is they would be permanent walk ons to save money.

Any pay system would be star or top heavy. Introduce money, you get the whole Benjamins Envy thing going, and college sports is still more about the team thingy--that would probably suffer. Coaches who are already tapped out with responsibilities would then have to what--counsel team mebers who feel they need more caysh?

Do you pay a guy who is redshirting? Do colleges cut corners on medical care? Do doctors become university bean counters who then weigh the cost of ongoing medical care versus a freed up schollie? What about guys who suffer career ending injuries while in college? does the college still want to honor his schollie in lieu of the extra expense of paid players?

There's no pay system for college athletes that is ever going to work or be instituted. And no pay system is EVER going to stop cheaters from cheating. 

This isn't about a player having enough money to buy a pin for his girl while they share a milk shake down at Arnold's. This is about winning college football games and the powers making enough money to feed the system and keep them, well, in power.


March 22nd, 2011 at 9:50 AM ^

Staying on campus in the dorms is actually pretty expensive - if they are truly being paid the "dorm rate", they could easily get a cheaper apartment off campus, live reasonably frugally (training table would help), and end up with a bit of spending cash.


I think the loophole might've been closed, but for a long time, athletes could take advantage of Section Eight housing laws. Near just about every campus in America, HUD encouraged non-profits to put up Section-Eight eligible apartment complexes. These were supposed to be designed for folks that were going back to school and had left their jobs or maybe single-parent families that were trying to finish school or support staff for the school.

College athletes are 18 and have an income of $0.00, so they qualified for the housing. The apartments are usually pretty nice (because they're new and mostly student housing). The athletes could live in the apartments and still get a housing stipend as part of their scholarship.

Curits Enis at Penn State was pretty bold and bragged about the loophole in an SI article just before he was drafted.


March 22nd, 2011 at 9:59 AM ^

Wait, I don't understand the need for this proposal.  I have been paying players for years.  Usually in cash, but somtimes in cars and other benefits.  Also, if players need additional money, they can always sell their jerseys, equipment and, if they earn one, their awards and championship rings. 


J. Tressel.

P.S. Happy Easter! . . . Go Bucks!


March 22nd, 2011 at 11:18 AM ^

This proposal is seemingly new, but it still doesn't answer one of the biggest (if not the biggest) questions about paying players, which is - where does the money come from?  And how much?  Let's say you only pay football and basketball players.  That's about 130 guys.  Do you pay them $1,000 a year?  So these kids have 4 grand plus a little interest when they graduate - big deal.  Do you give them $5,000 a year?  Now you're looking at 650 grand a year to pay these players, and many schools don't have that kind of extra money laying around.

Then you look at another problem - do you play hockey and baseball players?  At many schools, they generate revenue or at least break even.  How about Title IX?  How about the non-revenue sports?  Once you get up to 300 athletes, you're looking at 1.5 mil a year in paying athletes - almost no school could afford that. 

These are the issues I see that you didn't address in your proposal. 


March 22nd, 2011 at 11:43 AM ^

No. The only reason I would think it would be ok to pay players is so that they have a little(key word) spending money IN college. 


March 22nd, 2011 at 12:16 PM ^

Just let them sell their image. The universities do not have to be involved in that. Problem solved, no lawsuits from the ping pong team either.


March 22nd, 2011 at 12:19 PM ^

The argument that players are already receiving the value of a free college education, free room and board, etc. is a valid one in my opinion.  You have to look further at the full value of future career earnings for players as a result of that free education.

For the 99% that do not go pro, the value of the education over not receiving that education, provides a greater earnings potential after college than no degree at all, and at the very least, the financial advantage of not being burdened with associated fees from student loans that the rest of us that paid our way are burdened with.

But if they really do want to be paid, give them the cash value of the education and room and board and let them spend it as they wish.  They can use that money to get a degree, or they can blow it on whatever they want with no access to that education.


March 22nd, 2011 at 12:23 PM ^

You have to also let them be able to sell their image and name. They should be paid every time ESPN uses them on promo reels. I don't think the universities should pay their athletes directly because of the lawsuits that would bring from the sports that don't end up getting paid, but the very talented athletes should be allowed to sell their image for promotion ect, and the money the NCAA and the universities make on jersey sales should be shared with the athletes that are bringing that money in.


March 22nd, 2011 at 12:38 PM ^

You're fine with non-revenue sports taking the hit then, eh?  They will have to, extra money doesn't fall from the sky.

Merchandise revenue, TV revenues, etc. all go to supporting athletic departments as a whole.  If you dip into that pot, they'll be taking the most sizable hit.


March 22nd, 2011 at 4:31 PM ^

The nonrevenue sports can profit from the success of the program as a whole, but they shouldn't profit off of individual players. AJ Green's jersey sales shouldn't go towards paying for new volleyball nets in Georgia unless Green wants that money to go towards that.

They should be able to sell autographed crap if they want to. Another good example is when one of Michigan's football players posed for a local shop's ad(not as an athlete, just as a regular model) they had to take it down because the NCAA considered it a violation. Wtf? They're athletes, they're not indentured servants.


March 22nd, 2011 at 2:26 PM ^

I still think an athletic loan is the best option.  The main problem comes with implementing it, as the university will have to set aside X dollars to be made available for the athletes.  After a few years, the university will (hopefully) start seeing the money being repaid.  This could also serve as an incentive for athletes to get their degrees and be responsible for their loans, just like the rest of the students at the university.  I know the plan isn't perfect (smaller colleges probably can't afford to set aside much money), but it seems more reasonable than stipends and whatnot.  Just put a "reasonable" cap on how each athlete can take out and make them responsible for it.


March 22nd, 2011 at 2:31 PM ^

It's not my preferred solution, but this could easily be set up by BoA or Citi or whoever. You could just have an approved list of lenders and the NCAA could bargain for a set rate. 

The athletes could shop around for a deal if they wanted, and the banks would be happy, because IIRC athletes tend to make a significant amount above the mean after college, so theoretically there would be a low default rate.


March 22nd, 2011 at 2:39 PM ^

I don't think they would be that high-risk. They wouldn't be nearly what students are paying back in general, and it's a population that tends to make more money after college anyway.

I don't think this would mean that Pryor could go buy another Corvette; I'm assuming this is some pocket money.


March 22nd, 2011 at 2:46 PM ^

How do you differentiate between who gets loans?  Pryor would get a loan but a 2nd-string lineman wouldn't?  What if that player flames out, or gets hurt before the draft and his career is ended?  There's way too many questions for a bank to take on for the few that will actually make it - that's why it's high-risk.


March 22nd, 2011 at 3:03 PM ^

The loan shouldn't be to the point where it takes more than one or two years of the NFL to pay back (Even JaMarcus Russell could've paid it back), but you do bring up a valid point to sustaining a serious injury in college or before the draft.  This should weigh on the athletes' minds and encourage them to finish their college education to have a fallback option.  It's not perfect, but there's always going to be some risk involved.


March 22nd, 2011 at 3:38 PM ^

No, I agree. Cap it at 5,000 for the school year or something. 20,000 over ten years after graduation would help alleviate their situation, I think. I also think it should be across the board: if a backup third baseman on the softball team wants it, she can take it. If Pryor wants it, he can too.