Pay to Play?


Johnny Manziel

John Cotton, Sports Staff Writer

Colleges all over the country bring in millions of dollars from college athletics each year. The only ones who do not gain anything from this are the players themselves, who are the main reason why people pay to attend games and buy merchandise.

If you attend a college football game at Texas A&M University, you will notice that well over half of the jerseys that fans are wearing have a number two on it. Do you think that they bought that jersey because that is everyone’s favorite number? Of course not; it is the number worn by superstar quarterback Johnny Manziel. The NCAA is not allowed to make any money off of player likeness because they are considered amateur athletes, but the NCAA gets around this in a countless number of ways. One example is selling “generic” team jerseys; it is apparently just a coincidence that the team’s star player also wears it. The players themselves don’t profit off of this, but the university and the NCAA do. There are hundreds of examples of this happening all over the country, but the most noteworthy is the Heisman Trophy winning quarterback at Texas A&M, Johnny Manziel. Texas A&M has always had a decent football program, but it has skyrocketed since he joined the team, and when teams succeed, colleges bring in the big bucks. Their athletic department made over $120 million dollars last year, which is in the top 10 highest earned among athletic departments in the country. None of which went to the players who helped bring it in. They even auctioned off a dinner with Manziel for $20,000. Those are only a few ways that universities and the NCAA make money off of players. Many of these college athletes, like many regular college students, don’t have much spending money. A huge difference is that between school work and practices, it is hard for student athletes to have part time jobs of some sort to try to earn money. A simple solution would be to pay them.

There have been many suggested methods of doing this, but one of the more accepted ideas is paying each player a couple of thousand dollars per year or semester. This would give each player a reasonable amount of spending cash and teach them about money management. It would also help eliminate other violations with the NCAA involving taking money. Even the most innocent things like getting paid because you won a $20 bet with a friend is considered an NCAA violation if you are a student athlete. Many universities have gotten in trouble because players have traded autographs for money and other offenses. More serious offenses involve boosters for universities giving players and their families cars, clothes, cell phones, and other gifts. These players understand that it is against the rules, but do it anyway because, in most cases, they do not have much money, and it helps their families out. If they get paid to play, odds are fewer that players would break these rules. Players should also be able to make money off of their image. Examples of this would be to pay players a percentage of what the university makes off of their jersey sales. Many people wonder why this has not happened already, but there are multiple reasons that make it a lot more complicated. The two sports this would work the easiest with are college basketball and football. Paying players in those sports wouldn’t be a problem because they are so profitable at every university. The big question is, how would it work with less prestigious programs like volleyball, baseball, hockey, soccer, and many others? These sports don’t bring in nearly as much money as the other programs, but they still deserve something. I believe that each player should earn an equal amount, and that amount should be based on how much money the team brings in for the university.

The players are the reason why colleges and universities make millions of dollars each year, and I feel as if they deserve some of that money. Many of the student athletes are unhappy and feel like the universities are using them. I do not blame them, because they deserve to be rewarded for all that they do to help the university they attend.