Should College Athletes be paid?

Kevin Collins / Staff Photographer

The debate of whether or not we should be paying college athletes has come to prominence with the introduction of a new California law regarding the subject. Recently, California governor Gavin Newsom signed the Fair Pay to Play Act, which would allow college athletes to make money from sponsorships and product endorsements.  

The National Collegiate Athletic Association objects to this law. According to NPR, they see it as a threat to the traditional model amateurism in college athletics. However, considering that colleges make money off of the athletic games, it doesn’t seem so fair that the students aren’t being compensated, but their professional counterparts are compensated with significant payment.

Take Zion Williamson, a basketball player from Duke University, for an example. According to The New York Times, Williamson is college basketball’s best and most prominent player. 

However, back in February, he suffered an injury to his right knee after his sneaker split open during a game. 

This unfortunate event led to calls for him to stop playing college basketball, seeing as he was already an NBA draft prospect. 

This drew criticism towards the NCAA for not paying student athletes. In another case years earlier, a college football player chose to end his college career prematurely after receiving an injury more serious than Williamson’s. This was due to the fact that he wouldn’t be compensated, along with the athlete wanting to limit the risk to his professional payday, according to the NYT.

Of course, there are arguments against paying college athletes. Some college athletes get numerous privileges from the schools they’re at – scholarships, reduced fees, and getting priority when picking classes for each term. However, the law does not say that the students would get paid by the college itself, or by the NCAA. 

The money would come from sponsorships by outside companies to use their name, image, and likeness for product endorsements and advertisements. 

If the money paid to athletes came from the university, the student athletes would become student employees, presenting Title IX challenges.

There are cases of athletes being drafted into the professional leagues right out of high school, meaning they might not have to play in college in order to get a position in a major sports league like the NBA or NFL. This may distract them, and prevent them from pursuing an education, which is a risky way to go. Besides, the odds of getting drafted right out of high school is small, and having a good education is the safer route.

So, while I still support college athletes being paid, I can see reasons why others would go against this.