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Should College Athletes Be Paid?

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Should college athletes be paid to play? The argument over whether or not college athletes should be compensated for their talents has generated a widespread and rather heated debate in recent months.

National Collegiate Athletic Association investigations found that improper benefits were given to New Orleans Saints player Reggie Bush while he was a student athlete at the University of Southern California.

USC Found Guilty of Violations

The NCAA conducted investigations of alleged violations over a period of four years, and USC was heavily penalized by the NCAA in June 2010. The NCAA ruled that Bush that violated its rules by accepting gifts, cash and benefits while playing football at USC, conflicting with his “amateur” status and therefore making him ineligible as a college athlete. Bush was also in contact with an agent, which is illegal according to NCAA rules until a player has left the college’s sports program.

While people continue to ask themselves if college athletes should be paid, USC is in deep water. The NCAA criticized USC for “ineffective monitoring” of its student athletes and the USC football team has been banned from participating in all NCAA bowl games during the 2010 and 2011 seasons. They have also been vacated of all wins from the 2004 and 2005 seasons. USC will lose ten football scholarships per year for the 2010, 2011 and 2012 seasons.

Bush Returned Heisman Trophy

Bush voluntarily returned the 2005 Heisman trophy just days ago, creating even more headlines, yet some members of the sports media continue to share the opinion that college athletes should be compensated for playing.

Patrick Rishe’s recent blog post at Forbes.com said that several former NFL players who now act as football analysts, including Marcellus Wiley and Desmond Howard of ESPN, feel that if the NCAA didn’t have bans on payments, scandals such as the one involving Bush would no longer arise.

Some Feel that College Athletes Should Be Paid

Some people believe that college athletes should be paid for their “services” because athletes help often generate substantial revenue for their universities in the form of ticket sales, merchandise, licensing royalties, and even larger-than-usual alumni contributions during a winning football season.

On the other hand, college athletes also bring about millions of dollars in expense, from travel and housing to health care and equipment purchases. The majority of fans attend games and purchase merchandise because of the school’s reputation, because they live in the area, or because they are alumni— not because of specific college athletes playing on the team.

Most Student Athletes do not Make it Professionally

Most student athletes do not become professionals in their sport, yet they do receive a college education to “fall back on.” Even if they go on to become professional athletes, they can decide to work after their retirement. Depending on the school and whether or not a student athlete is from that state, a full-ride college athletic scholarship can range anywhere from $7000 per year to $30,000 per year. Over the course of four years, the price tag attached to that degree is quite hefty— college athletes essentially earn their college degree for free.

Should college athletes be paid to play? Reggie Bush has caused more people to ask the question than ever before. The NCAA stresses that the public needs to understand that investigating college athletes in contact with agents and amateurism has been in place for over than 10 years. There have been a number of different cases, but the media hasn’t always covered them to this extent.

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Melissa Rhone+

Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.


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