For years I have been on the side of those who believe college athletes need to be paid. I have gone as far as comparing college sports to indentured servitude; the schools, coaches, administrations etc are all getting paid but the ones doing the work for which others benefit are allowed nothing.
Several recent issues have brought this to the forefront of national sports; Reggie Bush and OJ Mayo being fingered as receiving extra benefits and consorting with shady characters led to USC being dropkicked by the NCAA. Probation. Loss of scholarships. Returning of money received and talks of Bush losing his Heisman trophy.
Maurkice Pouncey formerly of Florida allegedly accepted $100,000 from an agent/agents representative prior to a bowl game.
The other notable incident is still unfolding. Several college players from UNC, South Carolina and Alabama allegedly attended a party held by a sports agent in Miami.
This on its face is clearly a violation of the NCAA rules, but since one player has already said he “has never even been to Miami” the story is far from over. Besides, how many of us can say we never went to a party with no idea who’s party it was or why it was being held? I went to my fair share, and that has to be factored in to the analysis.
College sports are a morass of fractious agendas, old boy cronyism, exploitation and nepotism wrapped around multi-billion dollar enterprises loosely collected in one pot called the NCAA. Football and basketball rule this kingdom in that order, and the money and exposure pouring in from TV networks has made many schools near deities across the land (Notre Dame, Texas, U of Miami and USC.) The only ones not allowed to benefit from this machine called amateur collegiate sport are the ones doing the heavy lifting, the cogs of this machine, the student-athlete.
Follow this logic: Reggie Bush decides to join the biggest LA story of the past decade, the USC Trojans football team coming out of high school. He won one trophy as the best player in the country and probably, arguably, should have won two. He made the Trojan brand bigger and more relevant than any other player in recent memory. He became a first round NFL draft pick.
While in school Bush drove a nice car. An investigation said no problem. His family lived in a really nice house. No problem. So after he is off making millions in salary and advertising revenue (deservedly) the NCAA starts to ask questions again. Rumors start about payoffs to family members, houses obtained for others and payments to Bush. His former coach senses the gig is up and decides before the hammer comes down to go coach in the NFL. So Bush is long gone from college sports, the coach has moved on and the new coach-no paragon of virtue himself, but that’s another story-and the new players suffer the consequences of Bush’s alleged misdeeds.
The University of Southern California made millions from Bush’s exploits on the field in his time there. They sold jerseys, sold out games, earned TV revenue, attracted student-athletes and students they normally may not have gotten because of their new buzz. The coach got paid bonuses and renewed contracts based on wins, losses and glitz. Millions of dollars in the pockets of everyone involved, but when the NCAA comes asking questions they treat Bush, his name and achievements like a common thief. Would they have done the same to an alumni convicted of high crimes? Very, very doubtful.
The defenders of this sytem argue that the students get a value-their scholarships. Seriously. Are you kidding? A scholarship versus millions of dollars is not an even exchange. Not even with my fuzzy math. Add int
o that mix, the numerous sordid tales of athletes ill prepared for college or life after college. Dexter Manley.
Lloyd Daniels (R.)
Countless others who are students in name only, there solely to make the money for the school, temporary fodder for the machine called major college sports.
Here is what I propose. Pay student-athletes a stipend akin to their sport, rating on their team (a standard determined by outsiders; NFL/NBA scouts maybe?) and revenue generated for the school. Any athlete who violates the rules of the NCAA loses a scholarship and has to repay the stipend. Any coach who is in charge of a school that has demonstrated a lack of institutional control cannot coach on the collegiate level for ten years. Any agent who compromises a student-athlete loses his license for five years. Any agent who employs, directs or otherwise associates with runners and street agents loses his license for five years.
Its about time that the real villains, the ones who profit from the machine, pay the price.