MILLS: Don’t pay the players

College athletes should not be paid, given the financial support they already receive

If you read the March 27 paper you may have seen a column titled “Pay college players.” In this article, Gray Whisnant argues that college athletes deserve to be paid for competing for their schools. I would like to tell you why this argument is completely ludicrous. Let me preface this by saying that I am one of the biggest Cavalier sports fans you will find. I attend as many games as I can; from every home football game (as disappointing as that was), to a few women’s and men’s soccer games, field hockey, volleyball, wrestling and most home basketball games, I love Virginia sports. However, I do not believe that the athletes that compete in these sports deserve to be paid.

Whisnant addresses a very important fact about college athletes that cannot be denied: athletes that are said to receive “full” scholarships do not have a completely free ride. There are some expenses that are not covered by the scholarship that the student must pay for out-of-pocket. Whisnant cites many statistics presented in a study done by the National College Player’s Association and Drexel University’s Sport Management Department that represent the financial difficulties of college athletes. I would also like to cite this article as saying that, “For the 2009-2010 academic year, the average annual scholarship shortfall (out of pocket expenses) for Football Bowl Series (FBS) ‘full’ scholarship athletes was $3,222.” A statement from the CollegeBoard Advocacy and Policy Center says the average amount borrowed by students who earned a bachelor’s degree in 2011-2012 (excluding transfer students) was $26,500. Simple math will tell you that is an average of over $6,600 a year over four years, which is more than twice the amount of out-of-pocket expenses for a student athlete. So to say that college athletes are in “poverty,” as the first study puts it, for having out-of-pocket expenses is simply shallow and unappreciative of the fact that ordinary students also have out-of-pocket expenses that usually far exceed those of student athletes. Whisnant addresses mainly college basketball in his column, so I too will structure my argument in that manner.

Let it be known that there is no requirement for basketball players to attend college before entering the NBA draft. To be eligible for the draft an athlete must be at least 19 years of age and one year removed from graduation of high school (or one year removed from the year they would have graduated if they did not graduate). It is not required that athletes go to college during their one year gap after high school graduation, although many choose to do so to gain experience and publicity. If not being paid to play while you are in college is an issue, don’t go to college. A few players choose to play professionally in other countries before entering the draft; that way they make money and still gain experience and publicity.

Let me leave you with this: According to an article from the Associated Press, “NCAA’s Division I Board of Directors has twice approved a rules change that would allow schools to give athletes a stipend to cover expenses not covered by their scholarship — clothes, travel, meals out with their friends.” Just remember that when you’re cold and don’t have the money buy clothes, student athletes may be bundled up nice and warm on their university’s dime.

Billy Mills is a first-year Kinesiology student in the Curry School of Education.

Published April 2, 2014 in Opinion

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