NCAA: “Compensate student-athletes” Piece at TheTandD.com has One Major Flaw

Most know, at least if you have perused my blog, that I am not in favor of paying college athletes a salary like we compensate someone “working” at their job. That treating athletes participating in college sports in the same manner as we do professional athletes would likely bring more bad than good to the table. That the utter complexity of this path puts into question who is deserving of said monetary reward and who is not, as well as a host of other, as yet, unforeseen issues.

Even with all of this, however, I am certainly not opposed to increasing scholarship monies to more reasonable levels.

In fact, I would fully support the current proposal by the NCAA that allows for an increase in scholarship monies, the same type of support Howard Hill gives in his article, Compensate student-athletes at TheTandD.com (The Times and Democrat). In Hill’s piece he lists seven what he calls complexities that help support the NCAA’s move toward an equitable solution to the problem that an athletic scholarship does not cover all of the athlete’s expenses, and currently they are prohibited from working.

Most of these complexities are interesting pieces of food for thought. Here, take a look:

"1. Student-athletes, like all students, have expenses that go beyond the amount covered by scholarships. Sports Illustrated (November 7, 2011, has provided an excellent discussion titled "Ways to pay college athletes." Try and read it.

2. An NCAA "emergency" fund would permit some students to avoid calling home for expenses of necessity. Some great athletes come from economically poor conditions.

3. The $2,000 grants will serve as buffers between the student-athletes who might be tempted to seek funds in unethical and NCAA-prohibited ways. Not all, but some.

4. Dwayne Harper, former South Carolina State University athlete and NFL Seattle Seahawks player, said: "The NCAA-backed grant is reasonable in that the move is consistent with the NCAA's organizational reform initiatives in light of the times."

5. Most student-athletes will become more character driven and steadfast in their quest for appropriate behavior due to the resulting impact of $2,000 grants.

6. With financial pressure being lifted to an extent, student-athletes can clear their minds of clutter (worry) and become more attuned to serious academic matters.

7. This NCAA- reform initiative is not embraced by all student-athletes. A limited survey reveals that some feel this move will have student-athletes asking for more funding."

This "good food for thought" is relative to all but #5.

“5. Most student-athletes will become more character driven and steadfast in their quest for appropriate behavior due to the resulting impact of $2,000 grants.”

As much as I might like to support most everything in Hill’s piece, that one above just does not hold up. Saying student-athletes will become more character driven and steadfast in their quest for appropriate behavior is liken to saying that if we pay professional athletes more money, their choices will also become more character-driven. This is a false premise at best. An off-kilter way of justifying something that literally has no basis in reality.

Character, and integrity, is not something that one can gain or enhance through any form of monetary compensation. It is something that comes from inside oneself. It is a characteristic, an aspect, that has its foundations deep within who we are. A piece of our decision-making process that is developed through time based on certain ethical standards one holds themselves to. They are not purchasable, directly or indirectly, by any stretch of the imagination.

Interesting piece, Howard, but you would have to remove #5 from your list for me to fully accept the complexities supportive of compensating college athletes. It just doesn’t pass the smell test.

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