Should Student Athletes Share in the Profits?

Let’s talk about student athletes.

With March madness at its peak right now this topic probably doesn’t seem like all that much of a stretch to you, but you might be surprised by the direction this topic is going in…

Should student athletes be paid?

Jalen Rose, ESPN/ABC studio analyst, member of University of Michigan’s Fab Five, and  the writer of this piece seems to think so. And while my first response to that question was an undignified snort, I have to say that after reading his points, I might be reconsidering my stance.

My immediate reaction was absolutely not. Sports are an extracurricular activity that students choose to take part in. Just like the school paper or honors societies or student government. They do is because they enjoy it. Or if they don’t have a love of the game, they’re often very good at the game, and they do it because they get a scholarship for playing that game. Full tuition paid? A free education? That was their payment. What more could they possibly need?

But Rose offers some good points.  He argues that being a student athlete is a full time job. (CollegeCandy reader and student athlete, Chelsea, agrees.) Rigorous training schedules, practices, and games take up the majority of these students’ time, far more time than most other extracurricular activities take up.  And the free time they do have is often spent in class or studying for classes. They do have to maintain a respectable GPA, after all. Rose points out something we all know but never seem to truly grasp: student athletes don’t have much free time.  And as the sister of someone who played high school football for four years, I have to agree. If high school football left my brother without much time to do anything but eat, sleep, and breathe football, then I can’t even imagine the demands that come along with being on a college team.

As a result, these students are left without time for a part time job, and have no means of making any money in college, all while colleges everywhere make lots and lots of money off of them. (Just look at all the money spent and earned during March Madness.) Granted, not every college student works, but some need to. While universities often provide their student athletes with full scholarships, if a student’s family cannot afford to give the athlete spending money, he or she is left without any means of paying for those necessary living expenses that always come up. Laundry. Food that doesn’t come from the cafeteria. School supplies. New clothes. Books. These are expenses that need to be taken care of, and Rose proposes that a $2000-per-semester stipend will do just that.

But what do you propose, ladies? Is the stipend a good idea? Should student athletes be paid at all? Or is getting out of college loan-free enough of a payoff?  Is being a student athlete a full time job? Should there be some sort of need-base system? Or should it be skill-based? And do you think it’s fair that universities, and networks, and brands, and basically everyone but the athletes themselves, are making a profit off of this?

Leave a comment and let us know!



  1. Bonnie says:

    A stipend on top of a full ride? That's a bit much. You're also forgetting all the other perks that come with being an athlete. I know our school offers free private tutoring-but only to athletes. They also get to register before everyone else. Maybe those without scholarships should get something, but why should every other student have their tuition raised to give these athletes money? Should only teams that make lots of money in ticket sales get a stipend?

  2. Tracy says:

    They do get paid — they get a free college degree in addition to the promise of wealth if they continue into a professional league. Most of us have dismal job prospects (not to mention debt), let alone a possible career as a pro athlete.

  3. Rhi says:

    As a student-athlete, I'm not sure where I personally stand on this. When I lived in the dorms, my monthly stipend was $75 (on a full-ride, so this was for other school supplies etc). $75! If I hadn't already had savings, that $75 dollars would not only have had to cover school supplies, but any movies or meals (my meal plan was only enough for about 5-6 days of the week) or clothing that I wanted to purchase. I had no time to get a job, so I would have definitely appreciated a larger stipend!

  4. Lauren - University of Michigan says:

    I totally agree that athletes get a lot of things that the rest of us don't get, but I also don't think it's fair that the universities and coaches and TV networks and everyone else makes SO MUCH MONEY off of them. Yes, that's what they sign up for, but they're really being exploited by the university. A free education is obviously huge, but it's nothing when you think about what the school is making off of a lot of these kids.

  5. Erin says:

    I go to a D1 school and our athletes get a ridiculous amount of money on their meal plans, laundry done for them, and a stipend for books. I don't really see much else that they could need a salary to spend money on?

    And I just don't see an efficient way of paying students without there being conflicts of interest as to why students are there and other legal issues…

  6. marie says:

    not every school can give out full rides. D3 athletes do no get paid at all.

  7. Sam says:

    There are only about 4 schools in D1 that make a profit on their athletic programs as a whole. 4. The vast majority of athletic departments are in the red. While a stipend might be nice for sports that make a lot of money (basketball, football), if you implement this idea, you would have to give it to ALL athletes. $2,000 for every athlete on every team would be A LOT of money. Colleges already are having a hard time justifying the amount of money they spend on athletics. Adding this to the mix would be a death wish.

  8. Liam says:

    im a d1 student athlete on a mens crew team (odd that bro bible took me here but w/e) and we get free clothes from adidas (other schools get nike or under armour), a better and cheeper athlete only cafeteria, free tutors, and free supplements. people on full rides get that plus X amount of living expenses as well as books paid for. it would be great if i got paid but i know sports like crew wouldn't see allot of that money

  9. Sandra says:

    As a student athlete myself, I can see both sides of the argument. I was a student last year and then I walked on to the sports team this year as a sophomore. Sports does take up a lot of time, and it is harder to make time to have a job for some sports than it is for others. But there ARE ways to do it. You just sacrifice a lot of your time doing so.

    If athletes were to get paid, you know it'd go to the big ticket sports like men's basketball and football. If there was such a system in place, I would hope to see it go to ALL athletes. Basically, I don't see the necessity.

    P.S. All the "benefits" we receive are kind of a trade-off. We get priority enrollment so classes don't interfere with practice (and even then there is an enrollment limit for athletes, so we don't get free reign of classes) and different tutoring because most of the tutoring is during the day, which is when we have practice, too.

    Hope everyone has a great Spring Break!

  10. jagr says:

    Absolutely NOT! The vast majority of D1 athletic programs lose money and athletea already get a stipend for room and board that far exceeds the actual cost abd that doesn’t even include room and board. The only viable way to pay these athlets beyond the normal perks would be the elimination of title IX (which I’m all for) far to much money is wasted non revenue mostly womens sports…none of which can cover their cost (with maymbe 2 or 3 exceptions)

  11. T.J. says:

    I get the stories that i have been reading but the fact still remains the universities make millions and the student gets ramen noodles for dinner……that aint right y'all. T.J.

  12. cdpdee says:

    Did you know that the coaches get a BONUS for winning bowl games, while the student athletes get NOTHING!!!!Jim Tressell got a MINIMUM payment/bonus/kickback of $250K for winning the Sugar Bowl. What a coincidence that is the same amount of his penalty…

  13. Akite says:

    I go to Oklahoma State and I know that our athletes get books and school supplies for free, I work in our bookstore. Plus the amount of clothes given to student athletes to represent our school is crazy. They get all the newsest nike gear available for our school. You can tell an athlete by the clothes they wear, their clothes are Nike and have the sport they play on the article of clothing. And the clothes are stuff regular students can buy. Plus our athletes get first dibs on the best housing on campus, which has free laundry. And to finish everything you discussed OSU doesn’t have cafeterias, we only have a meal plan to use at any of the restaurants or grocery stores on campus. And yes our athletes get the highest amount possible, which is more than $3,000 a semester. If athletes at Oklahoma State are treated that good I find it hard to believe that athletes at bigger schools with better programs are hurting for money. It’s been 20 years since the Fab 5, things have changed.

  14. Min says:

    Hmmm…what about getting rid of some of the perks and paying the athletes? That's another option, I guess, but I believe these athletes deserve to get paid. My thoughts of some of the comments made here:

    – D1 losing money? If yes, I can look at it as school advertising costs.
    – Free college degree? What's the difference between a full scholarship given to a HS valedictorian? You want Michael Jordans of the world to represent your school similar to Presidents. Yeah, Presidents is a bit of a stretch here, but I hope you get my point.
    – Free Food? Keeping your investments healthy is a no-brainer.
    – Free Clothes? Nike or Adidas would beg for these athletes to wear its logo. These guys are walking advertisements.

    I say there are more arguments to paying these athletes than paying corporate interns (link below if you are not familiar):

  15. […] Read the rest of this post at College Candy… […]

  16. Carole says:

    Oh, please. Full ride. Special treatment? The athletes are working their tails off for the glory of the school….perhaps their future but most college athletes do not go pro. The college should provide spending money and peg it to inflation while they're at it.

  17. Ken says:

    I posted this on my blog regarding the payment of athletes. I am currently a student athlete so I figured I would weigh in a little bit. Please feel free to read up.

  18. […] by Jen- Wagner College on 3/24/2011 on CollegeCandy […]

  19. criolle johnny says:

    The University of South Carolina (a few years ago) turned over $17 million profit on the football program AFTER expenses. I get really tired of fools in the local papers asking "How many professors could they hire with the coach's salary?" Idiots, that 17 mil paid for a couple of dozen and change.
    The hypocrisy of the entire system is astonishing. Try to imagine CREATING the amateur athletic system TODAY. Imagine that no one had ever heard of the NCAA and colleges across the country were trying to create a network of teams that would compete against one another.
    We won't pay the athletes.
    We won't have playoffs.
    We WILL pay the coaches.
    Journalists will decide who the champions are.
    Trophies belong to the winners, but they cannot sell or trade them. That is, they are your property, but the colleges will tell you what you can do with them.
    Schools will tell you what to wear so that they, the schools, can get endorsement contracts on the uniforms.
    Players may not get endorsements, even off of the field for any purposes. Some players recently tried to get endorsement for apartments where they lived, or where they purchased cars.

    I think we could go on, but … How long do you think this would stand up in court?

    Where are they getting their athletes? How many graduate with actual educations? The coach at Miami had the 3rd or 4th highest graduation rate in the country (after the military academies!) and HE got fired.
    I'm gettin' hostile. Gotta pour some wax and cool off.

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