I hope to succesfully convey the following argument in my essay:
College athletes should be paid for their services. Many athletes receive scholarships that do not cover true living costs, such as utilities or incidentals. Combined with lengthy, daily practice sessions, these extra costs are a huge burden for many players. At big universities, athletes bring in millions in revenues. These players are simply not compensated adequately by the institutions. The free market should dictate a player’s value, rather than arbitrarily infringing on their right to make a living. This type of laissez-faire policy is applied to coaches and should also reward talented players.
Big-time athletes at big-time universities earn big-time scholarships, typically covering the majority of attendance costs (Source 1). While this figure may seem sufficient, many other expenses arise throughout the course of the year. Utility costs and incidentals – flat tires, car repairs, etc. – are not affordable under the current system. In addition, scholarships only cover rent costs for ten months of the year. In July and August, financial aid is not provided to students unless they are enrolled in summer school. However, with strict practice schedules, students do not have time to take such courses. In this situation, students have bills not covered by financial aid, yet they can’t work because of a busy athletic schedule. To put it simply – being a college athlete is a job. These athletes should be paid for free. Situations such as these have led to NCAA infractions, where players accept money or gifts from boosters or even college administrators. Compensating players, even minimally, would reduce the likelihood of students breaking these rules.
I propose a system allowing the compensation of college athletes, equal to the cash value of the scholarship or the university’s minimum in-state tuition rate – whichever is greater. For instance, if a student-athlete receives a four-year scholarship with a total value of $80,000, he should be able to be paid up to $80,000 over the course of the four years, paid in equal installments of $1666 per month ($80,000 divided by 48 months). All students should be eligible for a minimum of 50% of the value or the scholarship. This income minimum would compensate partial-scholarship athletes, as well students at institutions with very low tuition costs. However, colleges should not be required to pay these players anything more than the minimum. The free market should dictate whether these students are paid maximum value. Highly-touted campus superstars should inherently earn higher monies than proven backups. The NCAA should also implement a system of incentive-based bonuses, where students with low prospects can attain additional income (not to exceed a maximum of 20% over scholarship value) for reaching specific statistical thresholds or achievements. For example, any quarterback who completes over 70% of his passes should be eligible for bonuses for his success. These bonuses must be regulated and determined by the NCAA to prevent the exacerbation of loopholes. This incentive system would also increase player work ethic and encourage maximum effort, especially at smaller colleges.