Amy Donaldson: NCAA and college administrations should explore compensating college athletes

Return To Article
Add a comment
  • Duckhunter Highland, UT
    April 1, 2014 1:58 p.m.

    Oh and I'm not necessarily opposed to paying college athletes but I'd love to hear if Amy, the outspoken Title 9 proponent, is in favor of paying the athletes commensurate to their value to the university? If so that would mean football players would be paid quite well, men's basketball players would also get some compensation, but all others would get nothing more, in fact those others probably ought to pay the university if we are going to base it on who actually brings in the $ and who is simply a drain.

  • Ifel Of'a-sofa Alpine, Utah
    April 1, 2014 11:40 a.m.

    Let me tell you a story of 2 boys, step brothers that are the same age. Both attend the same in state university. 1 on a full ride athletic scholarship, the other pays his own way. 1 gets meals, housing, all the best food he can eat, brand new books, tutors, gear, and special treatment. The other buys used books, lives with family, has a part time job, and struggles every semester to come up with the money, has no tutor, because of the lack of money he takes less credits from time to time, so will take longer to graduate. So far the second boy is debt free but not sure how long that will last.

    Who in their right mind thinks that boy #1 should be paid more money? Sure let him work in the off season, and even sign his name on a hat (manzell) to make money, but that is it!

    The same arguments used to pay college athletes can be used for high school athletes, and who agrees with that?

    They are compensated enough, and this comes from a dad of both!

  • bballisbob Riverton, UT
    March 31, 2014 8:04 p.m.

    Schools don't recruit top athletes to come and get a free education. They recruit them to make their teams the best and to try to bring National recognition to the team and the school to enlarge the coffers. Seriously? Ask Dennis Pitta if the school said go work on your education and if you have any time come and play a little football with us. Let's not loose site of why athletic programs go after the best athletes they can get, it's not so they can get a free education but to make the school and the program money. I don't believe their service to the school is worth a salary but surely some compensation for all they bring into the school. How about insurance in the event of a long term injury? Maybe they deserve compensation for the use of their likeness? I don't know what is fair but I don't believe the current system is fair and the use of free education, in my opinion, is a weak argument, that's not why coaches recruit.

  • Jazzsmack Holladay, UT
    March 31, 2014 6:44 p.m.

    As I have stated before, colleges and universities should do away with all sports, and focus on their prime mission which is education.

    And they should be replaced with club sports like they do in Europe and other places.

  • Riverton Cougar Riverton, UT
    March 31, 2014 6:26 p.m.

    These kids get scholarship money already (and a lot of it, usually). That is compensation enough, I believe (it usually covers tuition, fees, books, rent, and often food). In addition, my understanding is that they get their own academic tutors, meaning they are usually better compensated than most of their non-athlete student peers.

    If it is true that they are not allowed to have a student job, I think they should change that as well; that is, if they can afford the time commitment (but many student jobs are only 10-12 hours per week anyway, which is great in my opinion for a full-time student).

    Besides, why only pay student athletes? Members of the Utah Symphony get paid 60k+ per year (1st year members, and more for members who have been there for a while), so why not pay the members of the BYU Philharmonic Orchestra? Why not pay the members of other top performing groups?

    And as a last statement on this post, I have to say Title IX does more harm than good. It has an "affirmative action" stench about it and that's not a good thing.

  • idablu Idaho Falls, ID
    March 31, 2014 5:08 p.m.

    If the NCAA is prohibiting student athletes from earning fair pay for legitimate extracurricular work, let's fix that. Let's not make them free agents!

  • idablu Idaho Falls, ID
    March 31, 2014 5:02 p.m.

    I just have a really hard time feeling sorry for a student athlete who is getting paid potentially hundreds of thousands of dollar in free tuition, books, room and board, and food to play a sport they love. The university is providing the facility and and means and opportunity for that student to possibly make a living playing that sport. Yes, that college is getting revenue from their sports programs but is using that revenue to build the school, not lining administrators pockets. Only the coaches are making exorbitant amounts of money, but that is a market cost of having athletics..

  • idablu Idaho Falls, ID
    March 31, 2014 4:45 p.m.

    If you wanted to stipend athletes with a cap of a few hundred a month, that might be doable across the spectrum of all sports offered at a university. But once you offer differential pay for the stars or only for the revenue producing sports, it all falls apart: all but men's football and basketball are then abandoned. And only the most endowed colleges get the best athletes.
    Colleges rely on the revenue from sports to fund other programs, not just sports. There are NOT huge profits.

    Unless we are talking about a very modest maximum stipend on top of their very valuable cost of room, board, and education, paying college athletes is an extremely stupid and naive idea. It will ruin what is great about collegiate sports and hurt many, many more dedicated athletes than it will help. I will never contribute to a university who is paying athletes above scholarship, and there are many like me who feel this way. And this is coming from a father of a student athlete (one of the Olympic Sports) at BYU.

  • RockOn Spanish Fork, UT
    March 31, 2014 3:29 p.m.

    Tough subject. Changing the rules will forever alter college athletics, but maybe that's fine. Once any college athlete gets paid for anything, then cases will be made for everything. Big schools with big budgets who can pay big will dominate even more than they do now. Again... maybe that's fine.

    Some are saying not to pay but allow ancillary compensation for a person's skills and image. Taysom Hill is very marketable. An endorsement for footwear or body armour could be many millions of $$$. Instantly there will be great friction from those who make his skills marketable -- the guys who block, who catch and carry the ball. Yes, he could pay them. Some getting more than others...and who will arbitrate? Kinda messy.

    And if a Jamaal Williams is being courted by BYU and another team funnels more endorsement deals to him, he could leave after a couple of years for another school.

    Then there are high school athletes with parents who can sign for the kid an endorsement deal while in high school.

    I love the free market, but, like freedom of the press, it gets messy.

  • majmajor Layton, UT
    March 31, 2014 2:24 p.m.


    Be careful what you ask for. If male athletes are paid, there will be no money for any sports other then football, or male basketball. If they are employees in a for-profit market, very few programs will be able to afford any other sports, and because the other sports are money losers, schools will end all other sports. To further travel down the black-hole, because of the requirement for schools to have equal male, and female programs, many schools will end athletics as a whole.

    I think that student-athletes should be able to earn a living, outside of sports, and that the NCAA is idiotic in this area, but they are separate issues. Don't confuse the two topics in your articles.

  • Cowboys29 Grantsville, UT
    March 31, 2014 2:17 p.m.

    This is a joke of an issue. These kids are getting SCHOLARSHIPS!! That is better than money. They are lucky to be able to leave college with ZERO debt. I am so tired of college athletes thinking they deserve money compensation. They get MORE than enough through scholarships. And IF they did start to pay them there would be a ton of off the field issues with these athletes...a lot more than there already are!

  • Cougsndawgs West Point , UT
    March 31, 2014 1:16 p.m.

    I would like to see all non-revenue sports go to club sports which have to have sponsors and be self-sufficient. Allow the revenue producing sports programs and their athletes keep the money they've earned. Is that fair? Not necessarily, it depends on your definition if fair. Does a female athlete or Olympic sports non-revenue athlete work any less than the football or basketball player? No, and in many cases I'd say they work harder. But the hard reality is, they don't make or not that's a fact. Should they be entitled to money they don't make? No I don't believe they should. That's free enterprise, fair or not, like it or not. I guess it comes down to our economic values in the end. Are we wanting free enterprise and capitalism with no thought for the efforts and sacrifices of others, only caring where the money is and who has earned it? Or do we show some compassion for those who make less if any, but still work just as hard? No simple solution.

  • Cougsndawgs West Point , UT
    March 31, 2014 12:58 p.m.

    I'm still not sure where I stand on this issue. I can see the argument from both sides. A free education, paid in full is an invaluable payment to athletes for their contributions on the field, court, etc. However, as invaluable as that is, it doesn't cover the day to day costs of gas, clothing, transportation, etc. I think a stipend for those items is fair when student athletes aren't allowed to have jobs outside of summer...and they would have very little time for a job anyway between studying and athletic commitments.

    The issue of universities making millions in TV revenue, not to mention free advertising with those televised games also makes the relatively small compensation of these athletes ludicrous. In regards to athletic budgets, I think adjustments to title 9 that allow funds that are commensurate with revenues would be fair. But lets be honest, if that were the case many of the Olympic sports would be gone. It's a tough issue with no simple solution.

  • Duckhunter Highland, UT
    March 31, 2014 10:55 a.m.

    I have a question for Amy who has written multiple articles in vehement defense of Title 9.

    Since only football and men's basketball actually make money, and all women's sports are a drain and lose money, does your support for paying athletes only apply to the men's baksetball and football players who are the ones actually making money for the university or do you want all of the athletes to be paid including all of the women's sports and the men's sports that are a drain as well?

    Title 9 is based on "fairness" so is it 'fair' to only pay the athletes whose sports actually make money for the university or is it 'fair' to pay every athlete at the school?

  • Europe Topeno, Finland
    March 31, 2014 9:59 a.m.

    This will destroy American sports! The uniqueness of school connected athletics is unigue in the whole world! University sports is the real reason why the US has dominated many sports ... Just look at the "Miracle on Ice" at 1984 Lake Placid Ganes when the US anateurs won the best professional team in the world!
    NCAA must remain amateur under it's rules. If it does not! It will suck this nation's sports so dry, that's nothing is left. The agents take their 25% so fast...sports cars on designated stadiom parking lots are common...and MANY sports will vanish!
    Already 40 years ago, when Edwards started at BYU...the Athletic Department was self supporting, even after ALL the costs and still making a few million to BYU.
    When young men and women enter the field they are equal - in everything. That unique situation allows, even a walk-on, them to excel and become stars...and moreso - a team to be created.

  • toosmartforyou Farmington, UT
    March 31, 2014 9:57 a.m.

    So a "free education" is worthless? Maybe you ought to ask all the students that are tens-of-thousands of dollars in debt about the worth of a "free education."

    Athletes live a different standard with respect to behavior, grooming, grade inflation, etc, all because they have a physical body that allows them to be good at a certain sport over those who aren't. Athletics is just entertainment, so are you going to start to pay those who are in the dramatic arts for their contributions to the theater or the visual arts to the museum?

    Like everything connected to athletics in college, these proposals are based upon "me," selfishness, and greed in an out-of-control worship of egos.

    The NBA, MLB and other professional sports have ruined amateur athletics in yet another regard.

  • lixircat Indianapolis, IN
    March 31, 2014 9:55 a.m.

    I feel so bad for these athletes :(
    They're FORCED to go to a university and have access to the top educational resources and opportunities in the world. They are FORCED to have tutors and mentors who help them through the difficult classes. They're FORCED to endure the praise and accolades of their fellow students. And on top of that, they have to go live out their dream on national TV.
    College football is a business. Everyone knows that. But guess what, academic departments are businesses too.
    I will never understand the idea of pitying these guys who get to do what the rest of us would sacrifice our right eye to experience.

  • RBB Sandy, UT
    March 31, 2014 9:40 a.m.

    Lets see, I kid who works in an engineering lab gets $9/hr. A football player at Northwestern gets $40,000 tuition, $12,000 room and board, tutors and a lot of free gear. We we could just convince the engineering student to work 6,000 hrs per year all would be equal.

  • Red San Antonia, TX
    March 31, 2014 9:38 a.m.

    Great don't pay an college athlete! Fine. It doesn't really matter.

    But take the handcuffs off of the athletes as well. geez! They can't even have a job while they are on scholarship except during the summer and over Christmas break.

    I was broke, and on Scholarship, I tried selling t-shirts and was reported to the athletic director. I made like $200 extra cash and they about yanked my scholarship. I couldn't even afford to fill my car with gas. The scholarship barely paid for my rent and food. Nothing else.

    Also, to say athletes can't get paid in order to keep their amateur status is silly. Look at the stats. There is like a 1% chance to make it to the pros. It is criminal to continue perpetuating that fraud.

    The whole system is designed to make money for the school. There is a benefit to having a scholarship, but the rules regulating athletes are insane.

    Colleges need to stop manipulating the athletes and pretending it is for their own good.

    There is for sure a better way to handle this. Let's find it.

  • Esquire Springville, UT
    March 31, 2014 8:38 a.m.

    I walked away from athletic scholarships because I knew the sacrifice of my education would result. The notion of scholar-athlete is a joke for Division I, especially in football and basketball. Reforms need to be made, and the unionization vote is symptomatic of this. Athletes are expoited and too often tossed away. At minimum, any athlete who plays, should have a non-expiring scholarship until the point of graduation. Right now, once eligibility is used up, they are cut off. College athletics is big, big business, driven with cheap labor. All of you who love the football season and bowls, or pack the arenas for big time basketball, watch on TV and fill out brackets, would you be so fanatic if we returned to true student-athlete status? No way, the spectacle and entertainment is too big a deal. Spare me the arguments that athletes are taken care of by the system. They aren't. It's a sad state of affairs.

  • metamoracoug metamora, IL
    March 31, 2014 8:07 a.m.

    DN Subscriber said: "This whole stupid "compensating athletes as employees" scam started in Chicago, and we all know how other Chicago ideas have worked out."

    Amen, my friend. I am so tired of "politics as usual" in Illinois driven by the corruption and malfeasance of our public officials -- especially those from Chicago.

    The very idea that these athletes "deserve" compensation is yet again a manifestation of our entitlement society.

  • Archer of Paradise Oklahoma City, OK
    March 31, 2014 8:04 a.m.

    What of the students that make millions for universities through their research? Should they compensated? I'm not saying student athletes are treated well but if you want to increase the disparity between top echelon programs and up-and-coming, paying the athletes is a great idea.

    A few considerations, some of which have already been made:

    1) Who're you going to pay the tennis team, the swimmers, divers, etc.? Do you believe only the profitable athletes should be paid? Then plan on only paying football and men's basketball.

    2) I could be the best engineering student in the country but recruiters aren't going to hear about me on CBS, ABC, NBC, ESPN, etc. That's pretty good compensation for athletes.

    3) Free tuition and housing oft times. Free access to facilities, gear, world-class coaches, administrators, etc. I couldn't get anyone to pay for my books let alone get free access to my college professors.

    There are still other considerations. If you could appease me on these three, I'd be in favor. Good luck!

  • hamrdown OREM, UT
    March 31, 2014 7:35 a.m.

    Amy, I respectfully disagree. I have thought about this for a long time and I see both sides of the issue but paying athletes will just open a huge can of worms.

    First, you mention basketball and football players - the two programs that bring the the bulk of the revenue. So, when you pay those athletes, what about the others? What about the swim team? The track and field teams? The hockey teams? Etc., etc., etc.?

    Second, most schools have a very narrow margin in their athletic department budget and there are many schools that run in the red. So, if you pay the athletes, these schools will have to pull the money from other departments which will lower the value of those departments.

    Third, I agree with Steve Smith. I think the NCAA needs to look at a better option so athletes can work and earn money while in school (within limits). A music major can work, a history major can work, even a computer science major can work so why not an athlete?

    These young men and women are students at the university, not employees. They are there to get an education, not make money.

  • eastcoastcoug Danbury, CT
    March 31, 2014 5:32 a.m.

    We're missing the point if we think money is the greatest reward here. These kids are in school to get an education. Kids like Jabari Parker and others who leave early miss the whole reason for going to school and they need that education to help them know how to manage their money and make decisions. They don't even know what questions to ask their agents or accountants.

    What about kids that are interns that work for free or nearly free for companies that could benefit greatly from their work? Why would we think that athletes are alone in deserving to be compensated?

  • androol Queen Creek, AZ
    March 31, 2014 1:34 a.m.

    Let's not fool ourselves into believing athletes are not being compensated quite handsomely. The value of their scholarships can exceed $200,000. Most non-athletes wind up graduating with tens of thousands of dollars in debt, some people well into six figures. That debt can haunt people for decades. Student athletes have the ability to graduate free from all that debt. Even the Northwestern athletes argued, successfully, that they are already compensated to the tune of over $60,000 annually (have fun with the taxes). Let's also not confuse Billions in revenue with Billions in profits. A 2012 study showed that of the 228 public institutions that sponsored Division 1 athletics, only 23 were self sustaining; the rest required public subsidies. Collegiate athletics are a money losing proposition 90% of the time. So now in addition to tens of thousands of dollars in annual compensation, 90% of which requires the contribution of taxpayer money, sports writers are now proposing to dig deeper into the tax payers pocket to pay the athletes even more?! Lastly let's not pretend athletes are the only hard working students on campus. Many students work as hard, if not harder than many student athletes (...numerous academic scandals), and do not cost taxpayer millions.

  • ClarkHippo Tooele, UT
    March 31, 2014 1:18 a.m.

    I agree college athletes should be better compensated, but when I hear words thrown around like "player's union" or "agents for college athletes" I'm deeply concerned.

    I can't help but wonder if, with a player's union for college athletes, we're going to see a strike and/or lockout every six or seven years like in the NBA, NHL or NFL.

    Some people my not like Title IX, and to be honest there are aspects of it I disagree with, but so far every court in the country has upheld Title IX as it is written, so if you pay the guys, you MUST pay the girls too. This whole argument that football and basketball are different is simply not going to wash.

    Another thing that concerns me is, if you have an 18 or 19-year old college athlete getting even a fraction of what pro athletes get paid, all sorts of people come out of the word work wanting to enrich themselves at the player's expense.

    Watch the ESPN documentary "Broke" to understand what I'm talking about. It is an eye opener for sure.

  • Two For Flinching Salt Lake City, UT
    March 31, 2014 12:33 a.m.

    "while the student-athletes receive only a free education."

    .....and free food, and clothing, and housing, and free health care by the way of athletic trainers and orthopedic doctors. Many athletes also receive quite a bit of per diem money as well when they travel to away games.

  • DN Subscriber Cottonwood Heights, UT
    March 31, 2014 12:04 a.m.

    A better idea would be to drop ALL college athletics, and cut tuition and fees at colleges by 50%, which can be done after eliminating the astronomical expenses for big stadiums, coaching salaries many times that of any professor, and all the special perks and scholarships lavished on athletes who often do not graduate and whose educations are suspect even if they do graduate.

    If we want to watch paid athletes, let them become professionals. If the professional leagues need "farm teams" let them start their own, not sucker colleges into doing it for them.

    The adulation and attention wasted on athletes is simply astonishing, as they provide no real benefit other than entertainment, albeit in an often brutal game.

    This whole stupid "compensating athletes as employees" scam started in Chicago, and we all know how other Chicago ideas have worked out.

  • NaturelyBYU Salem, UT
    March 31, 2014 12:00 a.m.

    Haha Slavery? I wouldn't go to that extreme, considering most if not all of the student athletes play the sports they play because try LOVE THE GAME. Ha I'm not to sure that they are all being forced to play. They play because they want to, and the schools grant them scholarships to pay for their time spent at their respective schools. College athletics aren't all about getting to the Professional level. There are many athletes that will never make the pro's that I'm sure are extremely grateful for the scholarship money that is paying for the education they are receiving. Something that will benefit them for the rest of their lives.

  • JoCo Ute Grants Pass, OR
    March 30, 2014 11:16 p.m.

    News Flash for Amy; College Athletics are not big business. Outside of men's basketball, football and a very few women's sports college athletics is a losing business. The Chronicle of Higher Education reported that between 2005 and 2009 only seven institutions broke even or made a profit. Not even Duke or Kansas could make enough money to cover the costs of college athletics. You are propagating a myth by repeating inaccurate information. Women's Field Hockey, Lacrosse, Tennis, Swimming, Track would all be gone if money was diverted to pay football or basketball players. Should college athletics have the full cost of attending college covered by a scholarship, maybe. But if the full cost is covered for football and basketball it should be covered for all sports. We do not need a class system in college sports, especially one that would kill the gains made by Title 9.

  • The Rock Federal Way, WA
    March 30, 2014 10:41 p.m.

    "Still, the obvious question that persists is whether or not it’s fair, or even ethical, for universities to make millions of dollars off of collegiate athletics while the student-athletes receive only a free education."

    Not True: Many college athletes do not receive an eduction. That's because an education is the only thing that people are willing to pay for and not get.

    I get the point being made.

    If college athletes were to go on strike for two weeks the NCAA would be screaming. Many of the student athletes could get academic scholarships or grants. These guys are truly not being compensated for their skills.

    If this was done in any other venue they would call it slavery.

  • bigv56 Cottonwood, CA
    March 30, 2014 9:48 p.m.

    Sure. Take ca way their scholarships pay them ten bucks an hour and see how that works out vs. a scholarship. Keep it the way it is but let them get jobs in the sinner.

  • Las Vegas Aggie Logan, Utah
    March 30, 2014 9:35 p.m.

    I just can't wait until Tiltle IX kicks in!!!!

  • juni4ling Somewhere in Colorado, CO
    March 30, 2014 9:27 p.m.

    College sports abuse the heck out of athletes.

    And spreading the wealth to welfare sports...?

    Let the colleges recruit, let the athletes compete for highest compensation.

    Girls golf? Welfare sport. Get rid of it. It forces the male football player to get hit to earn the money so she can play golf...

    Title 9 was a stupid law. It forced schools to cut popular boy sports, in the name of feel-good wealth spreading...

    Allow colleges to pay athletes. Allow athletes to get paid. Let the market sort it out. Most colleges would go to a intramural program where more "student-athletes" could have chances to play....

    Lets not kid ourselves... There is money to be made in collegiate athletics. Just not the guy getting hit. Everyone else is getting wealthy but the kid getting hit. The girl playing golf with no one watching is getting the same scholarship money as the kid getting hit on live TV with millions watching and millions of dollars in advertising...

    College athletics is a scam. The kids getting hit are getting scammed...

  • metamoracoug metamora, IL
    March 30, 2014 8:39 p.m.

    College athletes are compensated. The largest percentage of them receive scholarships.