It’s just human nature that extreme measures have to be taken just to make people in power do the right thing. We’ve seen it with civil rights, affirmative action and now, maybe, with college sports. When I first heard the news about college football players at Northwestern University wanting to unionize, I initially thought they were going to actually get paid and I was glad. It turns out they’re fighting for health insurance, which I thought they were getting already.

I’m hoping this union thing will turn into something more.

The fight for college athletes to unionize wouldn’t be so hard if the NCAA would even try to be fair. But they won’t. The powers that be really see nothing wrong with colleges and universities making billions off young athletes in the prime of their careers. I understand why the thought of paying student/athletes was once taboo, but times have changed. A lot of these college and university leaders who profit from these hardworking young men and women are playing dumb.

Last Sunday, the NCAA board met and declared once again that payment has no place in intercollegiate sports. Former Secretary of Health and Human Services and current University of Miami president Donna Shalala spoke on behalf of the universities, claiming that most schools do not make money off of their athletic programs. That only a few make millions. She says the ones that do, pay for the programs that don’t bring in the big money. Yeah, okay.

They would have us believe that compensating athletes will ruin the system. They say students are being rewarded with access to a quality education, room and board and that’s more than enough. But my take is: if the college athletes are smart, lucky or both, they’ll get a good education out of the deal and hopefully, one day, a paycheck. The powers that be say if they pay football and basketball players, they’ll also have to pay players that don’t generate as much money, like women’s badminton teams, for example.

But what about graduation rates? They are often below average for the elite student/athletes. Some schools and coaches already go the extra mile to make sure students graduate. There are always instances where a school will do the right thing, just because it’s the right thing to do. Just like there were some white people who treated Black folks fairly before the Civil Rights Act was signed. There were some businesses that would hire qualified minorities and women before affirmative action. But you couldn’t count on it happening across the board without a law being passed.

It’s the same with the NCAA. They need to have their feet held to the fire in order to make a change. And they’re going to go kicking and screaming because they’re profiting big time from the system already in place.

But the student athletes who compete under the current system have their own stories to tell.

Baker Mayfield, a walk-on freshman at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, became the star of the team when he replaced the injured starting quarterback. He won five of the seven games he started in. After the original starter returned, Texas Tech refused Mayfield a scholarship and wouldn’t release him to play at another Big 12 school. They were afraid that he would someday be competing against Texas Tech.

If I got injured playing the hits and wanted to go to a competing radio station, I would have to sit out for a period of time, but then I’d be able to go where I wanted. Mayfield doesn’t have that luxury. The NCAA has sanctioned the university’s decision to keep him from playing at a competing school, indefinitely.

Here’s a different kind of story:

Robert Terrell (not his real name) received a four-year athletic scholarship at a Big Ten Conference Division I school. After a helmet-to-helmet collision on the field, Robert was shaken up so badly he decided a career in football wasn’t for him. An academic star as well, he wanted to pursue his major at the university that had welcomed him with open arms and assured his parents they wanted only the best for him. When he dropped football, his scholarship money ended, even though his parents wondered if his head injury was impacting his decision-making.

When asked if she thought players should get paid, Robert’s mom says she felt a four-year free ride, plus the $1,000 a month stipend her son got was fair. But she also thinks that there are other ways the schools can aid student athletes and families, like making funds available for family visits when student/athletes attend school out of state.

I’ve been trying to wrap this blog up for days but every time something new unfolds. Monday night’s NCAA tournament ended with University of Connecticut’s victory over Kentucky. UConn’s star guard Shabazz Napier told reporters recently that he goes to bed hungry some nights in spite of the millions of dollars being made off of him.

Now that we’ve got the face of a champion who is living what most of us are writing and talking about, we might just have a movement!

Years ago I heard a sports analyst lay out a great idea regarding a payment plan for players. He said money could be put in a trust that will only be available after athletes finish school. If the student/athlete gets hurt? Then they get the money that’s accumulated, but not until graduation. Students that don’t graduate get nothing and the money goes back to the school.

I’m just a DJ, so it isn’t my job to figure out how they can come up with an equitable way of compensating student athletes. I only know that it’s got to be done.

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17 thoughts on “Student Athletes Should Be Paid

  1. Yes they should be paid and paid long ago, look at all the money they make off them.white america has been pimping the black folk along time not only in sports but other erenas to, why were so sold on a race of people that care nothing about us than making a buck off us and using us for slave labor, while they cheerish the fruits of america, we can hardly get credit card with a descent limit, still treated harshly in this country, wake up.

  2. This whole issue could be resolved if the college presidents would stand up and do the right thing. Simply, a student would have to meet the academic requirements of being accepted in college before being offered a scholarship. Many of these athletes are occupying a place that should be used by a real student. How many times do we hear a college football or basketball player that is a junior at his respective college that can not properly conjugate a verb? If the college presidents would collectively stand together to defend the academic standards of college then that would force the nba and nfl to form minor league teams the way major league baseball and the national hockey league has done. As long as the nfl and nba have free farm teams why would they do anything different?

  3. Alfred Cheesborough on said:

    They should not be paid. Those that want to be paid, should go to the semi-pro/pro ranks from high school. They should be student/atheletes, and make the necessary sacrifices to get a good education and also represent their schools on the playing fields. There is no reason to change that concept.
    Many have done it and many more will.

  4. OK as a former Tom Joyner X Mas Wish winner and parent of a former B1G Ten student athlete I disagree. Sometimes I wonder who is telling media some of these stories and what facts are MISSING? My child had an injury…paid all bills. Got a full ride and often gave extra meals to teammates with lesser schollys. I’m proud my child put up with a lot of bull shigady (huggieeeeee) to GRADUATE with a GREAT degree and NO DEBT!! I watch athletes abuse the extra funds but you actually think PAYING them more will improve things. I can see it now “Mama, Uncle etc. calling claiming they need money to pay THEIR bills!” Tom, have you stopped to ask why black athletes line up for these “slave” schollys? I’ll tell you why because the thought of seeing their ESPN highlights to brag to da hommies and end up a trillionaire married to some light skinned/hispanic stripper basketball wife is more important than Tom Joyner’s rants!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Hollaaaaaaaa

  5. Mac Ben on said:

    Paying scholar-athletes will only drive up the cost of tuition for non-athletes. Why pay college athletes when I can just abolish collegiate sports and watch the pros!?

  6. The NCAA is making millions on these players (example TV coverage). But the NCAA is really getting paid with their NCAA video games. In those games the players are the actual players that played or is still playing NCAA football. The game does not feature the player’s name on the back of the jerseys but everyone knows who the player is. Just think about the millions of dollars the schools and video games made off of Cam Newton’s name alone. Compare the cost of the education Cam received free (wink, wink) to what the University received. Another example of unfair wealth distribution.

  7. Mac Ben on said:

    No they should not be paid. They are playing as a way of “paying” their tuition! Sadly most black athletes don’t graduate- but thats on them.

  8. yayawt on said:

    Yes they should get paid. These coaches are over paid on the backs of theses athletes & if they are injured they lose not just the scholarship but health benefits. Secondly no coach is worth more than the POTUS. The level of responsibilities pale yet the average coach receive more than what the governors of the states are paid.

  9. Tyrone on said:

    WORK-STUDY-ON-CAMPUS: Student Athletes Should NOT BE PAID, because the MAIN reason an athlete is on campus is to pursue an education, NOT a sport. To be paid as an athlete would SUPERSEDE the main purpose to achieve a higher education, which would Abolish the Pursuit or Goal for achieving a degree in Education. Income for an athlete can be achieved from WORK-STUDY-ON-CAMPUS without loosing focus on Education.

    • tewdeeq on said:

      The athletes are WORKING for their education. For most blacks or the not so wealthy it is a “work-study” job called playing ball for the “Man”. If no pay for playing ball, gymnastics, track for the university then hopefully, more work-study jobs will be available not just for whining white people but for blacks as well.

    • Kenneth Wells on said:

      I agree. The main reason a student goes to college is to get an education, not play in their sport of expertise or choice. If you feel they should get paid, then we need to take away the option of student athletes to go pro after one or two years. Back in the day, the only reason a student athlete went pro was the person’s family financial situation was so bad that going pro was the way to help ease the burden of finances. Now, you have these students who see dollar signs and forget their educational pursuits. They want to get paid? Fine, but they need to put in that agreement that whether or not they are going to the pros, they need to complete their education. If they leave before they complete their degree, the scholarship becomes null and void, and the athlete must pay back every penny they used while they were at that college playing sports.

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