OPINION | Should student-athletes be paid?

Hunter Bohls, a freshman criminal justice major from Las Vegas, plays for the Dixie State Basketball team and continues to put in work in the off-season. All of this hard work could be worthy of some sort of pay. Trey Urban | Sun News Daily

Share This:

With the amount of money student-athletes bring in for universities, the fact they don’t get paid is borderline criminal-like. 

By definition, a student-athlete is a part-time or full-time student at the university that also participates in the competitive athletic programs offered by the school. Student-athletes are usually required to attend nearly 20 hours of practice a week as well as maintain a minimum GPA. 

The life of a student is already difficult enough but student-athletes are expected to be successful while being asked to put in an unreal amount of hours. Student-athletes are expected to put their bodies through long hours of training and preparation while continuing to be successful. The worst part is that they are asked to do this with basically no compensation from the university aside from scholarships.  

According to the NCAA, only 57% of Division I student-athletes receive some financial aid through scholarships. Nearly half of these students will finish their time as an athlete in just as much debt as the average student. The only difference is most students have the time to work and attend school. Student-athletes packed schedule makes it nearly impossible to have time in their schedule to work. 

According to the Department of Education, the NCAA athletic departments made over $18 billion in 2019. This huge sum of money could easily be split up amongst the athletes that work so hard to bring it in. 

Even programs that don’t see much success on the field bring in a ton of money for universities. As we all know, Dixie State University’s football team had an awful year, but even in next years away game against Brigham Young University,according to the known benefits of the game for both teams, DSU is guaranteed $425,000 for the one game. All around the country, universities athletic programs put large sums of money in plenty of people’s pockets. Why shouldn’t the athletes performing also reap the benefits?

The NCAA doesn’t have a legitimate reason for not paying athletes. All the organization has to defend its stance is that these athletes are “amateurs,” and because of this, they should not receive compensation. They feel like the scholarships offered are sufficient, but nearly half of the kids you’re making unfathomable amounts of money off of receive no scholarships. The average student-athlete will walk away from their time at school financially behind other students. 

The NCAA has made improvements in recent years by allowing athletes to make money off of their likeness. In the past, student-athletes were not allowed to advertise themselves. Universities were allowed to sell their jerseys, but the athletes couldn’t profit from the sales. Athletes are now allowed to take sponsorships and grow a brand without punishment. However, this still just benefits the top athletes in the nation. The kids getting these deals are the ones who already more than likely have a full-ride scholarship to their university. 

The group of athletes that need financial compensation is the kids that sit on the sidelines for all four years but are still asked to put in the same amount of extra work. Even if it’s just minimum wage, these students put in enough time, and bring in enough money, to warrant extra compensation from the universities they perform for.