Question: The NCAA’s policy on amateurism in college athletics prevents the compensation of its athletes for their work and instead considers the scholarships received by those athletes as viable compensation? Is this policy fair? Is there a possible alternate policy that would fairly compensate the athletes?
March Madness and the NCAA College Basketball Tournament has come and gone with all its hysteria and unfathomable moments. With it, Villanova University was crowned champion in one of the greatest finishes to a championship in college basketball history. I was basically glued to the TV for the entire month of March as I became engulfed in the madness. However, the great play of those college athletes reminded me of a question that had befuddled me and still befuddles me today. Should those athletes be compensated for their work and the attention they bring to their respective colleges? The NCAA's policy on Amateurism lays out the restrictions of compensation of its athletes using the ideal that amateurism helps maintain an environment where its athlete’s number one goal is in receiving a valuable education.
I was then reminded of my family friend Jay Bilas, the top college basketball expert for ESPN and a former Duke Basketball star and graduate of Duke Law School, and his take on the policy. He believes firmly that the college athletes should be compensated more for their work. He carries some bias as his job is centered on the popularity of college basketball. More and more freshman are leaving their colleges early to play professional and compensation could have the effect of keeping them in school longer.
I understand that colleges profit off of their athletics from ticket sales, merchandise sales, etc. and I also understand that not all sports and athletes make their prospective schools’ money. For instance, the University of Alabama Football program makes the school much more money than the University of Richmond swim team. A backup goalie on a mid-major men’s soccer team contributes to the profits of the school far less than the starting quarterback for a top-10 college football team. I would like to research more on school profits from jersey sales. Under the amateur policy of the NCAA the name of the player is not written on the back of that player’s jersey to be sold. Only the number is stitched. A common fan cannot purchase a Deshaun Watson jersey with the name Watson on the back, only with the number 4 on it. That is not to say that the person purchasing the uniform is not fully aware that he/she is buying a Deshaun Watson jersey. Is there a way to fairly compensate a player off of the jersey sales and the money made from the sale of his jersey? I would also like to research the possibility of allowing college athletes to appear, and to be compensated for appearing, in commercials and from their televised games. This would clearly favor the athlete playing on a more popular sport for a top level team and I would like to research the effects that this may have on other sports and on mid-major programs. Hopefully I will get the chance to fully research this problem in the near future.