Column: Student athletes should not get paid while some students still have loans for school to pay

Universities may need athletics to survive, but they don’t need to be creating a college draft scenario and making business deals while the focus shifts from giving the best education.
Universities weigh in on whether or not to pay their athletes. Courtesy of

Nikki Smith is a freshman education major at MU. She is an opinion columnist who writes about education and social issues for The Maneater.

With the debate of paying college athletes, I find the answer to be simple: let the school do their part in paying for a full ride that can be worth up to $176,000 at the University of Missouri and then allow companies such as Nike and Adidas to pay individual athletes whatever they want for an athlete to wear their brand of shoes during a game. As far as I am concerned, this is as much of a business deal any college athlete should be receiving at this stage of their career.

In an article for The College Express a comment was made saying, “if payments were involved, according to Madisen Martinez, athletes would be incentivized to commit to the college or university with the highest offer. The next year they may transfer to another school with an even higher offer. Before you know it, college sports would be 100% business.”

Don’t get me wrong, I believe being a college athlete is a full-time job. However, with a full ride scholarship, athletes do not have to be as concerned with getting a job, since many students, like myself, are spending most if not all the money they are making to pay off school bills. This is something full-ride athletes just do not have worry about.

Another problem with paying college athletes comes with regulating who gets how much money. It is well known which sports bring in the most money, so an equal treatment of athletes would not be seen if they began getting paid. Athletic full-rides allow college athletes to sit equal on the college athletic boards, but if they started getting paid, basketball players would be making more than lacrosse players.

With such high numbers projected to pay these college athletes, the athletes may not even think about paying off their student loans. If you want to pay college athletes, be my guest, but the school should make them in turn pay for their schooling like everyone else instead of receiving a scholarship. According to Fox Business, it is much cheaper for Nike to sponsor a school’s whole football program than to sponsor athletes individually, which makes them prefer to sponsor college athletic programs over individual athletes. As I see it, with companies wanting to sponsor teams before individual athletes it may be harder for more athletes to get paid at the same amounts causing some players not making enough to cover tuition.

If you pay college athletes, schools begin creating a junior NBA with free college education on top of that. The Huffington Post states that, “amateur players receiving compensation just seems like a complete disaster. They don’t know how to manage their money, and there wouldn’t be anyone their to guide their financial decisions.” From my perspective, if graduating debt-free and finishing school isn’t on your priority list, then you should just go straight to the NBA.

Lastly, when you account for how much money college coaches make, it’s understandable why college athletes might want to be compensated in ways other than scholarships. As stated before, it would cost a university millions of dollars to give an entire team full ride scholarships. According to USA Today, the University of Alabama’s football coach Nick Saban makes more than $11 million a year. If the University of Alabama took 2 or 3 million dollars from his healthy salary and without changing the budget, the school could fund about 64 full ride scholarships to students excelling in other ways, such as academically or in the arts.

College should be about obtaining an education, not a business plan.

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