Steve Spurrier thinks college football and men’s basketball players should get a check.
So do I, though I’d go further.
But such proposals usually fall on deaf ears, with much of the argument seeming to be college athletes already are getting paid with an education, and to change that would either sully the purity of the college game or be too costly to implement.
Sure, college football and basketball players get an opportunity to get an education, though with little time to find jobs they’re expected to subsist on little more than room and board and those scholarships have to be renewed every year. That means a coach can pull a kid’s opportunity to get an education anytime he wants. It happens.
But never mind that. In a fair world, those who do the work should reap the rewards, or at least some of them.
College football and basketball players have brought in billions of dollars to their schools, yet they’re the only ones in the equation who can’t legally cash in.
Coaches, on the other hand, are free to accept whatever they can get paid not only by the school, but through endorsements and other deals. Millionaires abound in the coaching ranks. Spurrier is one of them.
But famous football or basketball coaches aren’t the only ones who owe their fortunes to the talents of young athletes. Assistant coaches, school administrators, conference officials and even NCAA officials all can make quite a handsome living off the backs of kids who don’t even own the right to sell the jersey they made famous.
Schools own that right.
Some opponents say Spurrier’s idea is unfair because it leaves out the athletes who compete in what are routinely referred to as “non-revenue sports.” I agree. Pay them too.
Pay every athlete the same stipend — enough to help them enjoy college life a little, not make them wealthy. And then teach student-athletes a real lesson in economics. If there’s a demand for a player’s jersey or helmet or sweatband, let the player get what he or she can for it.
Sure, stars will make more money than those who aren’t stars — but isn’t that how life goes?
There are those who think paying college athletes will tarnish college sports, as if that were possible.
Instead, paying athletes certainly makes those who run college sports — the NCAA, conference presidents, school bigwigs — less hypocritical. And that’s good for the games.