All Players United is a movement-turned-organization that has grown over the past couple of months as a voice for NCAA college athletes. Last month, the National Labor Relations Board permitted Northwestern University athletes an opportunity to unionize, led by former Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter, the face of the National College Players Association.
At the end of the day, the question is: Should college athletes get paid in some way to match the millions of dollars they make for their universities?
Coming from somebody who knows the struggle of a college athlete, I believe there should be some sort of compensation given to the players. Let’s be honest: although technically what athletes do isn’t labeled as a job, realistically it is. So with the NCAA prohibiting payment of any kind, it allows universities to become a business monopoly.
For example, when universities sell the school uniforms to the public in their stores around campus, they place the number of a player that is considered the face of the program on the jersey. But to prevent having to pay the athlete they just don’t put the person’s name of the back of it, although everyone knows whose jersey it is. Is that truly fair of the university to reap the benefits of that student athlete’s accomplishments and not compensate him or her for it?
Jalen Rose of the “Fab 5” is a perfect example. During an interview on the ESPN “30 for 30” documentary about him and fellow teammates, he expressed how they would see their own jerseys being sold around campus and not having enough money to even buy one.
Even after Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow graduated from the University of Florida, the university still sold his jersey in their stores. Where’s his percentage of the profit?
According to the ESPN college athletics revenue research conducted in 2008, the top five Division I schools were making total revenue of more than $100 million and the bottom schools a little past $8 million. And with the hype of college athletics, it’s probably even higher now.
Now when I say compensation, I don’t literally mean an actual paycheck, as that would open a Pandora’s box of complications with truly making it equal across the board. My definition of compensation would basically be something more than some clothes and shoes that doesn’t have representation of the school the student attends on it.
Also the compensation should fit how much that school is making collectively from its athletic program. Why not help that student athlete with some bills the person may have, an emergency fund for out-of-control situations or, if clothes or shoes, let that athlete pick some for themselves?
“I feel like maybe we should receive some of the benefits,” said senior student athlete and sociology major Andre Myles Jr. “Such as if they are making millions, maybe they can bless us with a car, bless us with some equipment for the house like a new couch or something. I don’t know about a paycheck, but we should reap some of the benefits of the millions they are making off our programs.”
The NCPA, on the missions and goals page of its website, lists a number of things it is fighting for as a way to give a voice to student athletes. Some of the things include minimizing college athletes’ brain trauma risks, prohibiting the punishment of college athletes who have not committed a violation, prohibiting universities from using a permanent injury suffered during athletics as a reason to reduce/eliminate a scholarship and raising that gift amount. Each one is well deserving to be addressed, but let’s just focus on raising the scholarship dollars.
According to the NCAA information page on how scholarships work, a “full-ride” scholarship covers tuition and fees, room, board and required course-related books. It also says that some scholarships can average $15,000 a year for in state public schools and $25,000 for out-of-state. For private schools, they average $35,000 a year. Each one is given out by the head coach of the team as he or she chooses.
So if all that money only covers an education, housing/meals and the books needed for class, what about other expenses that come with just life itself? Yes, student athletes may have financial aid as well and could possibly get a refund check. But those who are responsible and have gotten refund checks know how fast those dollars get spent either with bills or having to send some home to help family.
After all of that, some money may remain, but a lot of times it’s barely enough to treat yourself with something nice. Raising the amount of money given in scholarships so they can actually reflect a “full ride” is very important to the NCPA goals and could help with regard to the compensation given to the athletes.
The NCPA, also known by the movement #APU, hasn’t and is not asking for actual paychecks to be given to the athletes. If anything, members want an even form of compensation to be given that reflects the amount of money schools make off athletes. And honestly, I agree.