Two days after I arrived to the University of Michigan, I was required to attend a compliance meeting where I paid little attention to the lengthy document that I was required to sign multiple times. None of it meant much to me at the time, I was happy to be attending Michigan for free to play a sport. I was willing to sign anything they put in front of me. But after reading “Dispatches From the NCAA’s Deathbed,” I realized how athletes are affected by these compliance rules.
Should student-athletes get paid? No, their payment is getting an education for free, training with a top-notch team, and receiving all the other commodities that go along with being a student-athlete. These perks include free tutors, medical attention, trainers, state-of-the art facilities, and more. On average, this costs $116,667 per athlete. But what about the concern that the NCAA “sells (an athlete’s) personhood to its own corporate sponsorship for its own financial benefit”? The NCAA does make a 800 million dollars annually. But the NCAA is not profiting off of the money that it generates. Only 4% of its budget is allocated to the 500 employees that run the organization. And with a little bit of math, that 4% comes to $64,000 a year per person if it were all divided equally. This is a decent salary, but it also equates to a year of free tuition and room-and-board for one student athlete the organization supports. And the other 96% goes to the student-athletes benefits, scholarships, athletic department funds, national championship costs, athlete-academic facilities, and more. Who is really profiting from these extra funds generated by sports? All of the athletes are, including ones who do not make money for their school. So the only group of people missing opportunities to earn more cash is the small minority of athletes whose sports make the school and NCAA money.
To compensate for the opportunities missed by star-athletes to earn money for themselves, the NCAA’s compliance rules should be slightly altered to allow athletes to receive capital from sources outside their school. When I signed the compliance document, I agreed to not attend any paid promotional events, not accept money or gifts from anyone, and to not let anyone endorse my name or personhood without the NCAA’s permission. But would athletic departments or the NCAA lose much money if they allowed acclaimed athletes to be paid to attend events outside of those run by their athletic departments? Or if gear with their signature was sold for their personal profit? This may be the added incentive needed to keep those athletes at the university when they could be playing on the professional level. It is also a fair price to pay for those athletes who deserve extra compensation. While these changed rules would apply to all athletes, it would mostly benefit the athletes who are talented enough to earn money playing professionally.