Column: It’s Time to Pay College Athletes

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“We do have hungry nights,” said Shabazz Napier, one of the most exciting players in College Baskeball, who willed his University of Connecticut Huskies to the 2014 National Championship. “There’s hungry nights where I’m not able to eat, but I still gotta play up to my capabilities.”

But why is he going to bed hungry? You’d think that with the number of fans donning his – now lucky – number 13, coupled with money the University receives, television revenue and endorsements, some money would be able to trickle down so Napier could afford a plentiful meal to ensure his body develops properly.

Sadly, that’s not the case. Due to NCAA rules, Napier, himself, is not allowed to benefit of from any of those activities listed above. Fortunately, Napier’s statement did not go unnoticed. After 21.2 million watched the highly competitive matchup, the NCAA voted to supply student-athletes with unlimited meals. Although this is a move in the right direction, the NCAA still has a long way to go.

A typical student-athlete puts in forty to fifty hours towards his/her craft. This includes organized practice, gym sessions and actual games. Why are the athletes not being compensated?

As a high school student, I work as a delivery driver. I am providing a service to the restaurant, and in turn, I am being compensated an hourly wage, plus tips. Service is defined as “the action of helping or doing work for someone.” Just last year, the NCAA tournament generated 1.45 billion dollars of revenue. How much did the athletes who helped generate this revenue receive? Zero. Zilch. Nada.

How are student athletes, who dedicate about fifty hours a week towards their craft, supposed to obtain a job to pay for living expenses, while maintaining passing grades? They’re not, and they can’t. The NCAA makes a considerable amount of money from its athletes and yet these athletes are forbidden to make any income even from a side job.

So what’s the solution? The solution is paying student athletes. No, not multi-million dollar contracts but an hourly wage. Student athletes should be able to clock in and out before and after any time spent devoted toward their sport. In turn, an agreed wage will be provided to the student-athletes for each hour of service they provide. This will allow the student-athletes to be treated more fairly.

Some argue that student-athletes are already given compensation in the way of scholarship and a free education. While a free education is valuable, it is not enough to justify the NCAA not paying their athletes, and it was apparently not enough to feed the hungry Napier.

The NCAA is a multi-billion dollar company, and some schools create over $50 million of revenue from their student-athletes, but still, student athletes are going to bed hungry, and as Shabazz Napier said, “We’re the hungry Huskies.”

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