In my previous commentary on the USA Today piece, Part I: NCAA President Mark Emmert Addresses The Issue Of "Paying College Athletes", we were discussing the importance of life lessons, inferring how paying college athletes would detract from this.
Looking at this "paying college athletes" from another angle (one that begs us to ask some pertinent questions). Do we really want high school athletes making decisions as to where they are going to go to school based on how much a school will pay them? We already have enough student athletes, and parents, making decisions regarding college attendance based on scholarship alone, not necessarily on what is the best fit for the athlete. Do we really want to exponentially encourage more of this?
And what about who gets paid? Should it be all the athletes who reap these salaries based on the fact that they all put in an inordinate amount of time training and practicing for their sport--they all make sacrifices, or should it only be for sports that make money? How about only high-profile athletes in those sports that make money get paid?
And if we segregate sports, as some suggest, allowing only sports (or there high-profile athletes) that bring in these big $$$$ amounts to reap the benefits of payment for their services, are we OK with the message this sends? What then happens to all the other sports, both male and female? Where will they get the financial support to stay viable?
And lastly, if you think that college sports is corrupt now, and that this would help alleviate this issue, you really should give this some more thought. Just because athletes might earn a salary does not mean that the money/gifts given "under the table" for attending a school, scoring baskets, touchdowns, or who knows what else, would stop. This kind of corruption is like a snowball rolling downhill. Those that would give, and those that would seek, that little "extra" would still be inclined to do so. It just raises the cumulative amount some athletes would get because of the salary they are being paid. In fact, this particular issue is more a reflection of a bigger societal issue than an issue relative only to college sports. Ever hear of Enron?
I'm sorry; I just don't see much good coming of it, this payment to athletes beyond their scholarship.
If it were up to me, I would much rather see them increase scholarship to include all expenses athletes incur while in school, as the USA Today article suggests. In addition, I would require much more spreading of the wealth, thus, creating better opportunity for true Title IX application (the way it was intended) and increase benefits to colleges and their student body as a whole.
The reported millions of dollars that college sports garner are not being brought in by the sweat and hard work of these high profile athletes (programs) anyway; all athletes are doing that. It is a function of the popularity that we, society as a whole, afford to a select few, and because of that, ALL should reap reward from this financial windfall.
My vote, in short:
1. Expand athletic scholarship to include all legitimate expenses (while keeping amateurism intact).
2. Spend the monies differently so as to increase opportunity for all (as former NCAA executive director Cedric Dempsey was quoted saying in the USA Today piece).
3. Require any individuals (companies) trying to benefit from the merchandising and commercialization of college athletes (likenesses or otherwise) to pay into the system.
Paying college athletes a salary would not be part of the equation, at least not in my equation.