Paying college athletes: New look at old battle — Sam Masterson



Money surrounds every aspect of Division I college football and basketball. But as a top running back at the University of Tennessee, Arian Foster, could not afford to eat. He had to illegally call his coach to ask for tacos for himself and his teammates.

The NCAA is wasting its time trying to stop college players from collecting monetary benefits. Oklahoma State University’s (OSU) football program violated NCAA recruiting, payment and academic rules for almost a decade, according to allegations in a Sports Illustrated investigation.

It’s a joke the NCAA didn’t find out about this before a news source. This is more proof the NCAA has no control over its domain and shouldn’t label itself as a non-profit organization.

College football and basketball are not amateur athletics. Coaches are fired midseason when their product — the unpaid players — don’t perform. Forbes estimated the worldwide total of bets on NCAA March Madness at $12 billion. Forbes estimated the 2013 Super Bowl at $10 billion.

In 41 states and D.C., the highest paid employee is a college football or basketball coach, according to Deadspin, a sports news website. No college football or basketball players are paid for their contributions to their team.

Eight football players from OSU said they and 29 other players received cash payments, according the Sports Illustrated report on OSU.

George Dohrmann, senior writer for Sports Illustrated, said he knows of cases where D-I athletes from big schools received cash payments.

School boosters spend their money to help their alma mater achieve success. If they want to try to buy players, let them spend their money as they please. Have a payment system so athletes can have money to keep their refrigerator stocked and have a social life when their sport doesn’t control their schedule. Payment to athletes could come from boosters. If those boosters want to help their favorite team recruit, then that’s how they could do it.

Teams with richer boosters will have larger budgets than other teams. One may call this an unfair advantage. If you think having rich teams beating up on poor teams is unfair, then I’d like you to tell me about how many teams at the beginning of the year actually have a chance to win at the BCS National Championship.

The University of Alabama won back-to-back BCS National Championships and is ranked No. 1 in the country. The Southeastern Conference has won eight of the last 10 football national championships.

Isn’t that already unfair to the rest of the NCAA?

In most cases, a free education is a hell-of-a-good benefit for D-I athletes. But class schedules and homework are not what’s keeping players from finding food, money or entertainment. A 2011 report by CBS Sports and Sports Illustrated found seven percent of players on the pre-season top 25 teams have an arrest record. I understand that giving more money to players in some of those situations would make it worse. But Arian Foster said to his Tennessee coach before asking for food, “Either you give us some food, or I’m gonna do something stupid.”


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