In recent weeks, the NCAA has passed new regulations allowing to compensate athletes for competing on their respective collegiate teams. The NCAA’s regulations are an attempt to allow student athletes to have a lifestyle similar to typical college students by increasing academic requirements and giving each athlete $2000 of spending money. Another goal of these new reforms is to relinquish the rampant corruption and scandals in the NCAA’s two major sports: football and basketball. In the past decade UNC, USC, Miami, Ohio State, Georgia, Boise State, Alabama, Auburn, Oregon, among others have been subject to major NCAA investigations for players taking illegal benefits in violation of NCAA rules. These investigations arise from players taking from $750, as in the case of Georgia’s A.J. Green, all the way up to over $300,000, illegally taken by USC’s Reggie Bush. The essence of the NCAA’s corruption problems stems from the core values of the NCAA.
The NCAA Mission statement reads as follows: “Our purpose is to govern competition in a fair, safe, equitable and sportsmanlike manner, and to integrate intercollegiate athletics into higher education so that the educational experience of the student-athlete is paramount.” The NCAA attempts to “integrate intercollegiate athletics into higher education” and thereby maintain all NCAA athletes at the same level as typical college students. The only problem with this philosophy is that college athletes are anything but typical college students. Not only are these athletes treated differently on campus, but they have the ability to generate attention and money for their particular institution in ways that no average student is capable of.
Both the student-athletes in football and basketball bring in hundreds of millions of dollars, if not billions of dollars, for both the NCAA and its member institutions. Last year, the NCAA signed both a 14-year, $10.8 billion deal with CBS and Turner Sports to broadcast its men’s basketball tournament, and a 4-year, $500 million contract with ESPN to televise the BCS bowl games. In addition to these contracts, individual institutions, such as Texas with the Long Horn Network, and conferences, such the Big Ten, sign their own television contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars. While the NCAA and its member institutions are making billions of dollars from the efforts of a few dozen athletes, the athletes are receiving pennies on the dollar for their hard work.
A possible solution to fix the corruption in collegiate athletics is to include all NCAA sports under the federal work-study program. Under the federal work-study program, students who work up to 20 hours a week, just like athletes, qualify for the federal work-study program which covers up to 80% of their wages. In major college athletics, student-athletes are in effect working for their schools, with the hope that the school profit financially. Just like a student working in the school’s dining hall or mailroom, the athletes are working for their school by competing on the athletic field and deserve to be compensated in the same way.
Simply put, the system supporting collegiate athletics is skewed. It prevents student-athletes from being normal college students and places them in a position where the athletes feel the need to break the rules by taking illegal sums of money. The NCAA needs to implement reforms so that athletes feel that they are not getting cheated, and have an incentive to play by the rules of the game.
Photo Credit: The Associated Press