College athletes deserve compensation for talent

With the college basketball season underway and March Madness right around the corner, the sport will garner attention from all over the nation. Fans will fill out post-season tournament brackets, players will celebrate and a champion will arise when it’s all said and done.

While the players and coaches commemorate their victory, the real winners will be the ones who are cashing in on the game– sponsors, schools and ultimately the NCAA.

The NCAA agreed to a $10.8 billion deal with CBS and Turner Broadcasting in 2010, for the right to air its men’s NCAA tournament through the academic years of 2023-24, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.

The NCAA is also considered a non-profit organization. Ninety-six percent of the NCAA’s profits go back to the schools to benefit student athletes, according to the NCAA website.

This puts into play the question of whether or not college athletes should be paid. A scholarship was once enough compensation for college athletes, who had been given a chance to showcase their skills to the world and make a name for themselves. But in the last 20 years, sports industry has become so large it seems unfair to choose to not compensate athletes.

I’m not saying athletes should be earning millions of dollars, but some compensation for the revenue they bring to universities would be an ethical choice. If not that, then college athletes should be allowed to sell the rights to their name or hit the free market as desired.

College football player Johnny Manziel was suspended for receiving money in exchange for signing autographed merchandise in 2013. The NCAA rules should change so athletes are given the freedom to earn money for their talents.

The fair market value for a college football player in the top 10 programs can range from $338,000 to $604,000 per year, according to a Business Insider study.

Universities continue to portray student athletes as primarily students, not athletes. Colleges use the term students to shadow the fact that the athletes should purely play for the love of the game while a university profits from the talents, jerseys and other merchandise with players’ names on them.

We are in 2015, where the costs of living, food and books are not cheap. An athlete devotes a large amount of his or her time to playing a sport for the school and maintaining a full class schedule making it difficult to also secure a job to support themselves. Student athletes devote full-time weekly hours to their respective sports: 43.3 hours for football, 42.1 hours for baseball and 39.2 hours for men’s basketball, according to an article by CBS.

Not all NCAA athletes are playing a college sport with the intention of going pro and a majority of them go on to take jobs in another field. In the three major sports of baseball, basketball and football, only baseball had higher than 2 percent of athletes who secured professional athlete positions, according to an article from Georgia Career Information Center.

Universities need to realize how much work and dedication the student athletes are putting into their program. Playing a Division I sport and getting an education is not easy, and college athletes should begin to be compensated for their hard work.