To pay or not to pay? That is the question.
In “Texas A&M-Alabama: Inside College Football’s Supercharged Economy,” Time magazine covers Texas A&M sophomore quarterback, Johnny Manziel. The story coincides with a five part series by Sports Illustrated that chronicles 12 years of substance abuse, absentee jobs, promiscuous female recruiters and a pair of coaches who swear they had no clue.
The two stories have reopened an old debate: should college athletes be compensated?
I used to be an ardent supporter of student-athletes receiving remuneration for their abilities. I was upset when the University of Michigan decided to remove the final four banners from what is now Crisler Center after it was revealed that Chris Webber and four other players had received impermissible benefits including cash, cars and plane tickets – a direct violation of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) rules.
The resentment that festers within the public is that only the star players receive the red carpet treatment in college. What’s the point if these athletes don’t even finish their education or play professionally?
What about the African-American student-athletes? Statistics obtained from a 2012 study, the Center for the Study of Race and Equity in Education, found that the schools that comprise the ACC, Big Ten, Big East, Pac 12, SEC and Big 12 show that on average, 50.2 percent of African-American student-athletes graduated within six years.
It also showed that a staggering 96.1 percent of African-American student-athletes graduate at rates lower than student-athletes overall. While this isn’t clear for every college in the country, the power conferences in all of college athletics fall under that umbrella.
Schools are more inclined to recruit Da’Quan if he can throw, run and catch. The report also addresses universities that have a disproportionate number of African-American male student-athletes. At Marquette University, they were over-represented by 77 percent. But what good is having a max contract if you can’t read it?
The playing field will never be equal. It would be deplorable to think you could pay “Johnny Football” but not “Jenny Field Hockey.” Under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, it is stated that a stipend, no matter the cost, if appropriated would have to cover every school, every sport in every college in the U.S.
Forget about the major powerhouse schools. That would mean that the women’s basketball player who attends South Dakota State, on a full-ride no less, would receive taxpayer monies, on top of the free coaching, training, tutoring, meals and living accomodations.
According to a USA Today story published last month, only 23 out of 228 Division I athletic programs ran a surplus in 2012. Every university running a surplus is in a BCS automatic qualifying conference. Every Division I college is not in a major conference. This would force schools, whose athletic departments are already hemorrhaging money, to cut non-revenue sports. So now “Jenny Field Hockey” is back to being left out again.
There will be intense debate over this matter. As I write this, four major universities are currently under NCAA investigation for pay for play. One of them is the Alabama Crimson Tide. Everyone deserves a fair shake in college. The label of “amateurism” in college athletics needs to die a fast, quick, painful death.