The Clock is Ticking on Pay-to-Play

 

The past few months have seen regular bursts of publicity over alleged rule violations involving impermissible benefits being paid to NCAA student-athletes.  At this time athletic programs at Ohio State, Oregon, Auburn, Boise State, North Carolina and Tennessee (for starters) are currently involved in ongoing investigations.  Media reports surfaced on July 14 that the Georgia Tech football program is about to be notified of alleged violations.

All of this has caused some schools to look at new approaches to dealing with compliance issues.   This is just one example of events that are fueling the debate over whether the NCAA should overhaul the manner in which student-athletes are paid for their services.

Other examples of the impact of money on college sports include reports of new TV deals,  stories detailing the huge amounts of money now being paid to conference commissioners, new ideas being put forth to address shortfalls in expenses covered by current athletic scholarships, and the continued concern over the undue influence of agents.

Mark Emmert, the NCAA President, has said repeatedly since he took office last October that he will never allow the payment of student-athletes while he is president.  That, however, has hardly quieted the growing discussion of the need to come up with some kind of plan to compensate these students by giving them more benefits than they currently receive.

The debate rages because of things like the $250 million TV contract announced in May by the newly expanded Pac-12; the $150 million deal previously announced by the newly downsized Big-12 (that does not include the separate deals announced by the University of Texas), the $252 million deal signed this year by the newly expanded Big Ten or the $205 million deal signed by the SEC.

Social media has impacted this debate.  A round of NCAA investigations was kicked off this time last year when several University of North Carolina football players went on Facebook andTwitter and talked about being wined and dined by agents and their runners.  Suddenly commissioners Mike Slive of the SEC and Jim Delaney of the Big Ten were quoted as talking about the need to consider liberalizing rules surrounding paying players.

The issue is on the front burner because of reports that the average college football head coach of a Division I program earns on average just over $1 million per year, topped by Nick Saban of Alabama at some $4.7 million and Mack Brown at Texas at around $5.1 million.  A few weeks ago Kentucky announced that it had re-negotiated men’s basketball head coach John Calipari’s salary and that he would be paid an average of $4.6 million per year under its terms.

The issue is front and center because of incidents like Cam Newton’s father, Cecil, admitting that he solicited a total of $180,000 in payments to have his son play for Mississippi State.  Auburn officials have denied paying anything for Newton’s services.  The NCAA Vice President for Enforcement told a conference call on July 13 that the NCAA is still investigating Auburn.  Meanwhile Newton led Auburn to the BCS National Championship and helped the school earn millions of dollars.  Head coach Gene Chizik was rewarded with a new contract paying him in the neighborhood of $3 million per year and offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn is now being paid $1.3 million annually.

The debate is intense on both sides of the issue.  Some talk about how many schools, already losing money on athletics, cannot afford to pay student-athletes.  Others point out that only the football and men’s basketball programs are consistent money-makers at NCAA Division I schools.  If schools try to single out athletes in just those sports for extra benefits how long will it be before someone brings a legal challenge?

Then there is the shadow created by the ongoing federal lawsuit challenging the use of NCAA athletes’ likenesses to bring profit to schools without compensating the athletes involved.  As recently as July 13 a new NCAA video football game was launched with much fanfare.  It features a picture of 2009 Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram of Alabama on its cover.  Schools cringe at the thought of the consequences if the plaintiffs prevail in that lawsuit.

There is an old saying that timing is everything.  There is no question that change is in the air.  There is an excellent article on this topic that is now on SI.Com that is must reading for anyone interested in this hot topic.

(Editor’s Note.  If any readers have an opinion they feel is worthy of being posted as a contribution to this debate feel free to submit an article to the Digest.  Click on the link at the top of the page for instructions on how to submit).

 

8 Comments

  1. Tcbowe September 13, 2011 at 2:25 am

    Allow the student-athletes to sell their likenesses via commercials, jersey sales, t-shirts, etc.,  Money made from these items could be paid back to the schools to offset the cost of some scholarships.  This money could then be used for other academic programs at the schools.  Nobody is complaining that the non-stars are getting the short end of the stick from the NCAA.  It is the stars that are being exploited with jersey sales and the like. Let them make their money!

     
  2. Tcbowe September 12, 2011 at 9:25 pm

    Allow the student-athletes to sell their likenesses via commercials, jersey sales, t-shirts, etc.,  Money made from these items could be paid back to the schools to offset the cost of some scholarships.  This money could then be used for other academic programs at the schools.  Nobody is complaining that the non-stars are getting the short end of the stick from the NCAA.  It is the stars that are being exploited with jersey sales and the like. Let them make their money!

     
  3. Besautter November 13, 2011 at 11:46 pm

    Athletes on scholarship already receive enough.  They get tuition, room and board, meal plans, and many other benefits in order to play sports.  There are many athletes out there who play sports at the division 2 and 3 levels that do not receive any of that.  There is no reason to compensate these athletes because of their talents for any of their personal needs, that would just be making it more like professional sports.  If compenstation does happen, please compensate the other students that attend colleges on full scholarships other than for sports for their time spent in furthering their education which if done correctly takes up almost enough time as playing athletics.

     
  4. Besautter November 13, 2011 at 6:46 pm

    Athletes on scholarship already receive enough.  They get tuition, room and board, meal plans, and many other benefits in order to play sports.  There are many athletes out there who play sports at the division 2 and 3 levels that do not receive any of that.  There is no reason to compensate these athletes because of their talents for any of their personal needs, that would just be making it more like professional sports.  If compenstation does happen, please compensate the other students that attend colleges on full scholarships other than for sports for their time spent in furthering their education which if done correctly takes up almost enough time as playing athletics.

     
  5. Rev. Dennis LeRoy Duncan March 8, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    United States Sports Academy
    SAB561 Contemporary Issues in Sports
    Unit 4 Discussion: BLOG Pay-to-Play Initial Response
    08 March 2012
    Document Word Count: 771
    By: Rev. Dennis LeRoy Duncan, MS
     
                There is a Biblical lesson that I try to follow.  The main lesson is that we should be hot or cold, not luke-warm.  The premise is that we should follow Scriptures without hesitation.  (Revelation 3:16 GNT) Basically, the lesson teaches the principle that we can’t straddle the proverbial fence of behavior.  Either we are on one side or the other.  I know the lesson is about Biblical behavior but I feel it is appropriate for this discussion.
                My problem is that in the discussion about pay-to-pay for intercollegiate athletes, I do find myself understanding and supporting both sides of the argument; hence, I am luke-warm. (Pun intended)
                Greg Tyler (2011) presents significant discussion threads on three important issues.  First he presents a valid argument that as Colleges receive big-time money that salaries for coaches and AD staff is now over the top, yet the athletes are still receiving 1990’s scholarship determinations.  My issue with this topic is that the big-money continues to create a win at-all-cost mentality.  This lends toward opportunities to skirt NCAA (NAIA) issues of eligibility.
    Tyler’s second discussion presents a valid argument concerning how unacceptable behavior shadows any program, especially the rules involving what student-athlete entitlements.  My issue with this scenario is: just because someone violates any given mandates does not mean the mandate needs to be changes.  I purpose two points.  First, the improper (alleged or actual) just needs to be investigated and punishment levied that meets the seriousness of the unacceptable behavior.  Second, if we change the rules for every issue we will open Pandora’s Box that leads to total chaos in mitigating or upholding any mandates.  This will create a proverbial continuous legal circle that has no end.  This leads to my luke-warm thoughts about Tyler’s third point.
    Tyler’s third issue is a no-brainer.  Any media savvy person knows the rules of Marketing 101: never allow anyone, including student-athletes, to become a marketing tool without first knowing the ramifications and also knowing the mandate for legal releases for use of a person’s image or their endorsement.  I know this sounds harsh, but as a Yankee, I must say that whoever made the final approval to use Mark Ingram of Alabama as a marketing image needs to have both knee-caps busted and be made available for other employment opportunities.  This decision is just a fiasco waiting to attack.  Every student-athlete at all levels will now have the legal precedence to sue for illegal use of personal image.  If previous legal ruling are normative, this fiasco will trickle-down to traditional and social media outlets showing a student-athletes image in any reports of game.  If a report shows a specific student-athletes image the student-athlete now becomes eligible for compensation.
                The arguments about pay or no pay both have some level of credibility.  First, for many athletes their academic schedules and athletic schedules make it very difficult to hold a part-time job off-Campus, and also limit their ability to become eligible for Federal or Institutional Work Study positions.  Difficult but not impossible is the primary argument.
    Second, all students who receive any financial aid, and this always includes athletic scholarships, have their financial aid applied in a specific step-by-step process that maintains a balance in treating all students the same.  I purpose that Coaches, families, and Financial Aid staff must make sure that all prospective and current student-athletes follow the US Dept. of Ed structure for applying for financial aid.  If the process is followed, many student-athletes will end up with a credit balance on their individual student accounts.  The amounts of academic scholarships and external financial aid such as Pell Grants; may become money that is available to the student-athlete that is permissible within NCAA (NAIA) guidelines. 
                My third argument follows the note made by Weiner (2011) when he argues that many students who are paying their way through college without athletic scholarships will follow the pattern, “…the other students think athletes are privileged.”  The application of any funds beyond the normal financial aid packages and traditional scholarships will create a caste like environment.
                Finally, a literature review of multiple essays and reports presents additional positive and negative attitudes toward paying student-athletes to play.  Paterno (2011), Lipsky (2011), Sturgill (2010), Anderson (2011), Ulrich (2007) present balanced arguments.  Infante (2011), Infante (2012), as well as NCAA documents like “Why student-athletes are not paid to play” (2012) present the impact that changing the current policies is not the smartest way to address the current pay-to-play discussion.  Dorhmann (2011) present a significant argument about the disparity of big money income vs. pay-to-play creates.
                Alas, I am still straddling the proverbial fence.
     
    References
    Anderson, R.J. (2011). Assessing New NCAA Reforms.  Retrieved on March 06 from :
                http://www.athleticmanagement.com/2011/10/31/assessing_new_ncaa_reforms/index.php
    Anonymous. (2012).  Why student-athletes are not paid to play.  Retrieved on March 03, 2012 from:
    http://www.ncaa.org/wps/wcm/connect/public/NCAA/Issues/Why+student athletes+are_not+paid+to+play?pageDesign=print+template
    Dorhmann, G. (2011). Pay for Play. Sports Illustrated, 115 (18), 54-59. Retrived on March 03 from:
                http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1191778/1/index.htm
    Infante, J. (2011). NCPA Presents Good Question, HintsAt More Radical Change.  Retrieved on March 02, 2012
    from: http://www.ncaa.org/blog/2011/09/ncpa-presents-good-question-hints-at-more-radical-change/
    Infante, J. (2012). What Pay-for-Play Advocates Get Wrong. Retrieved on March 05, 2012 from :
                http://www.ncaa.org/blog/2012/01/what-pay-for-play-advocates-get-wrong/
    Lipsky, D. (2011).  Should College Athletes Be Paid?: A Fan’s Overview of the Scholarship System.  Retrieved on
    March 02, 2012 from: http://rivals.yahoo.com/ncaa/baseball/news?slug=ycn-10767433
    Paterno, J. (2011). Pay Student-Athletes?  The’re Already Getting A Great Deal.  Retrieved on March 05, 2012 from:
    http://www.ncaa.org/wps/wcm/connect/public/NCAA/Resources/Latest+News/2011/June/Jay+Paterno+Pay+Student-Athletes+Theyre+Already+Getting+a+Great+Deal
    Sturgill, S., Chen, S. (Unknown). Should Student-Athletes Get Paid?.  Retrieved on March 04, 2012 from:
                http://www.thesportdigest.com/archive/article/should-student-athletes-get-paid
    Tyler, G. (2011). The Clock is Ticking on Pay-to-Play.  Retrieved on March 02, 2012 from:
    http://thesportsdigest.com/2011/07/the-clock-is-ticking-on-pay-to-play
    Ulrich, L. (2007). Clearing Financial Hurdles.  Retrieved on March 02, 2012 from:
                http://www.athleticmanagement.com/2007/06/06/clearing_financial_hurdles/index.php
    Weiner, E. (2011). Plan to Pay NCAA Student-Athletes in Works.  Retrieved on March 02, 2012 from:
                http://thesportdigest.com/2011/10/plan-to-pay-ncaa-student-athletes-in-works

     
  6. Rev. Dennis LeRoy Duncan March 8, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    United States Sports Academy
    SAB561 Contemporary Issues in Sports
    Unit 4 Discussion: BLOG Pay-to-Play Initial Response
    08 March 2012
    Document Word Count: 771
    By: Rev. Dennis LeRoy Duncan, MS
     
                There is a Biblical lesson that I try to follow.  The main lesson is that we should be hot or cold, not luke-warm.  The premise is that we should follow Scriptures without hesitation.  (Revelation 3:16 GNT) Basically, the lesson teaches the principle that we can’t straddle the proverbial fence of behavior.  Either we are on one side or the other.  I know the lesson is about Biblical behavior but I feel it is appropriate for this discussion.
                My problem is that in the discussion about pay-to-pay for intercollegiate athletes, I do find myself understanding and supporting both sides of the argument; hence, I am luke-warm. (Pun intended)
                Greg Tyler (2011) presents significant discussion threads on three important issues.  First he presents a valid argument that as Colleges receive big-time money that salaries for coaches and AD staff is now over the top, yet the athletes are still receiving 1990’s scholarship determinations.  My issue with this topic is that the big-money continues to create a win at-all-cost mentality.  This lends toward opportunities to skirt NCAA (NAIA) issues of eligibility.
    Tyler’s second discussion presents a valid argument concerning how unacceptable behavior shadows any program, especially the rules involving what student-athlete entitlements.  My issue with this scenario is: just because someone violates any given mandates does not mean the mandate needs to be changes.  I purpose two points.  First, the improper (alleged or actual) just needs to be investigated and punishment levied that meets the seriousness of the unacceptable behavior.  Second, if we change the rules for every issue we will open Pandora’s Box that leads to total chaos in mitigating or upholding any mandates.  This will create a proverbial continuous legal circle that has no end.  This leads to my luke-warm thoughts about Tyler’s third point.
    Tyler’s third issue is a no-brainer.  Any media savvy person knows the rules of Marketing 101: never allow anyone, including student-athletes, to become a marketing tool without first knowing the ramifications and also knowing the mandate for legal releases for use of a person’s image or their endorsement.  I know this sounds harsh, but as a Yankee, I must say that whoever made the final approval to use Mark Ingram of Alabama as a marketing image needs to have both knee-caps busted and be made available for other employment opportunities.  This decision is just a fiasco waiting to attack.  Every student-athlete at all levels will now have the legal precedence to sue for illegal use of personal image.  If previous legal ruling are normative, this fiasco will trickle-down to traditional and social media outlets showing a student-athletes image in any reports of game.  If a report shows a specific student-athletes image the student-athlete now becomes eligible for compensation.
                The arguments about pay or no pay both have some level of credibility.  First, for many athletes their academic schedules and athletic schedules make it very difficult to hold a part-time job off-Campus, and also limit their ability to become eligible for Federal or Institutional Work Study positions.  Difficult but not impossible is the primary argument.
    Second, all students who receive any financial aid, and this always includes athletic scholarships, have their financial aid applied in a specific step-by-step process that maintains a balance in treating all students the same.  I purpose that Coaches, families, and Financial Aid staff must make sure that all prospective and current student-athletes follow the US Dept. of Ed structure for applying for financial aid.  If the process is followed, many student-athletes will end up with a credit balance on their individual student accounts.  The amounts of academic scholarships and external financial aid such as Pell Grants; may become money that is available to the student-athlete that is permissible within NCAA (NAIA) guidelines. 
                My third argument follows the note made by Weiner (2011) when he argues that many students who are paying their way through college without athletic scholarships will follow the pattern, “…the other students think athletes are privileged.”  The application of any funds beyond the normal financial aid packages and traditional scholarships will create a caste like environment.
                Finally, a literature review of multiple essays and reports presents additional positive and negative attitudes toward paying student-athletes to play.  Paterno (2011), Lipsky (2011), Sturgill (2010), Anderson (2011), Ulrich (2007) present balanced arguments.  Infante (2011), Infante (2012), as well as NCAA documents like “Why student-athletes are not paid to play” (2012) present the impact that changing the current policies is not the smartest way to address the current pay-to-play discussion.  Dorhmann (2011) present a significant argument about the disparity of big money income vs. pay-to-play creates.
                Alas, I am still straddling the proverbial fence.
     
    References
    Anderson, R.J. (2011). Assessing New NCAA Reforms.  Retrieved on March 06 from :
                http://www.athleticmanagement.com/2011/10/31/assessing_new_ncaa_reforms/index.php
    Anonymous. (2012).  Why student-athletes are not paid to play.  Retrieved on March 03, 2012 from:
    http://www.ncaa.org/wps/wcm/connect/public/NCAA/Issues/Why+student athletes+are_not+paid+to+play?pageDesign=print+template
    Dorhmann, G. (2011). Pay for Play. Sports Illustrated, 115 (18), 54-59. Retrived on March 03 from:
                http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1191778/1/index.htm
    Infante, J. (2011). NCPA Presents Good Question, HintsAt More Radical Change.  Retrieved on March 02, 2012
    from: http://www.ncaa.org/blog/2011/09/ncpa-presents-good-question-hints-at-more-radical-change/
    Infante, J. (2012). What Pay-for-Play Advocates Get Wrong. Retrieved on March 05, 2012 from :
                http://www.ncaa.org/blog/2012/01/what-pay-for-play-advocates-get-wrong/
    Lipsky, D. (2011).  Should College Athletes Be Paid?: A Fan’s Overview of the Scholarship System.  Retrieved on
    March 02, 2012 from: http://rivals.yahoo.com/ncaa/baseball/news?slug=ycn-10767433
    Paterno, J. (2011). Pay Student-Athletes?  The’re Already Getting A Great Deal.  Retrieved on March 05, 2012 from:
    http://www.ncaa.org/wps/wcm/connect/public/NCAA/Resources/Latest+News/2011/June/Jay+Paterno+Pay+Student-Athletes+Theyre+Already+Getting+a+Great+Deal
    Sturgill, S., Chen, S. (Unknown). Should Student-Athletes Get Paid?.  Retrieved on March 04, 2012 from:
                http://www.thesportdigest.com/archive/article/should-student-athletes-get-paid
    Tyler, G. (2011). The Clock is Ticking on Pay-to-Play.  Retrieved on March 02, 2012 from:
    http://thesportsdigest.com/2011/07/the-clock-is-ticking-on-pay-to-play
    Ulrich, L. (2007). Clearing Financial Hurdles.  Retrieved on March 02, 2012 from:
                http://www.athleticmanagement.com/2007/06/06/clearing_financial_hurdles/index.php
    Weiner, E. (2011). Plan to Pay NCAA Student-Athletes in Works.  Retrieved on March 02, 2012 from:
                http://thesportdigest.com/2011/10/plan-to-pay-ncaa-student-athletes-in-works

     
  7. Jcpuryear March 18, 2012 at 12:36 pm

    While I do agree that coaches and AD’s are getting overpaid, I do not agree that athletes should get paid. Academic standards are lowered to let athletes in and they are rewarded with scholarships that include tuition, books, rooms, electricity, water and food. The amount of time allowed to dedicate to the sport is less than my jobs that I have to work to pay for all the things listed in previous sentence. If athletes want to get paid as if they were at a job then let them work a real job that discriminates if you have a troubled history.

     
  8. Jcpuryear March 18, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    While I do agree that coaches and AD’s are getting overpaid, I do not agree that athletes should get paid. Academic standards are lowered to let athletes in and they are rewarded with scholarships that include tuition, books, rooms, electricity, water and food. The amount of time allowed to dedicate to the sport is less than my jobs that I have to work to pay for all the things listed in previous sentence. If athletes want to get paid as if they were at a job then let them work a real job that discriminates if you have a troubled history.

     

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