Friday, April 1, 2011

Save Us From Pay-College-Athletes-To-Play Nonsense

Paying athletes to play college sports is a bad idea.

Repeat this 100 times.

Maybe it will finally sink in.

College athletes are not exploited. They get advantages in fame, opportunity and, yes, chicks the average student would kill for. If they’re good enough, they’ll get a chance to make millions of dollars as pros. If they’re not good enough, they’ll still have an edge in the job market because a lot of employers like to hire former athletes, especially in the college’s town, surrounding area and state.

Sure, some athletes complete their eligibility without graduating, but that’s more their fault than the university’s. If you’re an athlete and you want to do the work and get a degree, you will.

Paying athletes won’t stop cheating. Some schools will still see to it that prospects get money or girls or Justin Bieber concert tickets.

It’s human nature to cheat, just like it’s human nature to do a lot of things that aren’t right or nice, which is why we have laws, police and enough NCAA rules to confuse Einstein.

Most of this pay-the-athlete talk centers on football and men’s basketball. There’s this idiotic idea they’re being taken advantage of.

We should all be so lucky.

In those sports players get full rides which, depending on the school and if you stay for as long as five years (occasionally, for medical reasons, a player might get a sixth year), could be worth a quarter of a million dollars, or more.

Every athlete gets free medical care, from physical exams to surgery to rehab and everything in between. Have you seen the rising cost of health insurance or medical expenses? It’s brutal. That benefit alone is priceless.

IU basketball player Maurice Creek has needed a pair of knee surgeries in the past 15 months. Imagine how much those cost, plus all the rehab time with trainer Tim Garl. Four Indiana running backs have had knee surgery within the last six months. Those weren’t free.

Factor in all the Hoosier athletes and all the college athletes across the country, and the amount universities spend on medical care is mind boggling. And it’s not like athletes are being treated by quacks. Some of the nation’s top doctors and trainers work with them.

Then there are training table meals (Indiana, like a lot of schools, has hired a nutrionist to ensure athletes eat well), tutoring, shoes, uniforms, workout clothes, the chance to go to some cool places for preseason basketball tourneys even if it’s not a vacation (Hawaii, the Caribbean, New York City, ect). That doesn’t count the opportunity to go to bowl games or the NCAA Tournament. Don’t forget some of the neat bowl gifts for football players –- including Xbox 360s, iPod Touches, custom-made watches, and even a $420 shopping spree at Best Buy.

Athletes don’t pay for any of this.

Plus, they’re doing something they enjoy at some of the most famous facilities in America. How many people would love the chance to play basketball at Assembly Hall or Rupp Arena, or play football at Michigan Stadium or Ohio State Stadium or Notre Dame Stadium?

Athletes get prime-time opportunities to display their skills and, if they’re good enough, earn mega-million-dollar salaries as pros.

Look at Butler’s Gordon Hayward last year. Look at IU’s Eric Gordon and D.J. White from a couple of years ago. They’re millionaires today, and their time in college helped.

Sure college athletes work hard. Big deal. So do college music students, accounting students, members of the marching band, cheerleaders and a lot more, and they don’t get paid.

And if you do pay athletes, who do you pay and how much? Should the star quarterback get more than the third string tackle? Should just football and basketball players get paid because those sports make money?

In fact, you’d have to pay every athlete the same amount. Otherwise the system would be flooded with lawsuits, and then the only ones making money would be lawyers.

Here’s a news flash. Most college athletes don’t get full rides. They do in football and basketball because it’s an NCAA rule. Most of the others get partials. For instance, soccer and wrestling get basically a maximum of 10 scholarships a year. They might have 20 or 30 guys on a team. So you divide the financial aid to help as many as you can. A super stud might get a full ride, but somebody else might get just 20 percent, or nothing.

That percentage can fluctuate from year to year depending on individual performance and overall team need.

If anybody needs money, it’s athletes in those non-revenue sports.

Here’s the bottom line -- there’s not enough money to pay athletes. Most athletic departments lose money. Yes, the NCAA tourney generates billions of dollars. Schools make money from player uniform sales, and a whole lot more.

But when you factor in expenses, most of that money disappears. Blame it on coaches’ salaries, facility building, facility upkeep, and heaven knows what else. In a world in which nine billion dollars isn’t enough for NFL owners, nothing is sure except enough is never enough.

College sports are big business. No one debates that. Is there cheating and corruption? Absolutely. Should some rules be adjusted to reflect 21st Century reality? Sure. But when it comes to paying college players, consider this last thought.

We remember a former Indiana basketball player who, and we’ll be nice here, was not a good-looking guy. It wasn’t even close. He should have been lucky to get a date, yet he had a girlfriend who could have been featured in Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue, not that we admit to having seen that despicable issue. It was almost certainly the result of the power of Hoosier basketball.

Was he being exploited?

We should all be so lucky.


  1. Thanks for the response to Kravitz's article of a few days ago. I never read Kravitz if I can avoid it due to the fact I believe him to be the village Id10T. The educational opportunity is potentially worth millions in and of itself. On top of that, once you start paying players how do you regulate it. If schools are allowed to pay players an additional 10k per year, Kentucky will pay 30k. Back where we started.

  2. Maybe he had a really great personality! ;)

  3. Thank you for the article. It is nice to have somewhat of a balance between those who feel we should pay athletes because athletics brings in so much money and those who believe athletics should be cut in order to save taxpayers all of that big money they pay into the system.

  4. Agree---they are pampered enough as it is. Paying them will only lead to the rich getting richer and more greed and corruption. The BCS is bad enough---$14 million for losing a bowl game? Ridiculous!

  5. I can solve this....abolish athletic scholarships altogether...award scholarship on academic performance only...

  6. When I was an undergraduate, I recall seeing a goofy-looking IU basketball player at the library building sitting in the middle seat on one side of a six-seat table with five knockout coeds in the other seats. Nice article. If they weren't being "paid" enough already, there wouldn't be a surfeit of guys willing to fill those "jobs".

  7. I would add that eligibility standards need to be strengthened and enforced. Also, athletes on scholarship must complete two years of eligibility before turning pro. Finally, I have grown weary of coaches coming and going as they please, and of them bluffing their way to rediculous contracts. The divide between pro and amateur ranks needs to be redfined.

  8. Amen!!

    You make a heckuva lot more sense than that opinionated guy from the Indianapolis Paper.

  9. Can we Pleeeeeeeeease get Brad Stevens as our coach...Crean sucks.