SEPTEMBER 19, 2011 4:20PM

Yes, College Athletes Should Be Paid

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For the last week, The Atlantic has been running a series of articles on college sports and the NCAA. The most recent one sums up the whole debate: namely, why should colleges and the NCAA reap the monetary benefits of student athletes while denying those same students those same benefits? They shouldn’t; student athletes should be able to be paid and pursue endorsement deals. Consider the logic:  student athletes make money for colleges. Colleges profit. Students are not allowed to profit. Letting students profit would undermine integrity of college sports, say NCAA and colleges (while counting the money they reap from those students). There seems to be a disconnect.

Additionally, the GPA required to stay on an NCAA or Big Ten team is so low (2.0 for the first two years, then down to 1.8 in the third year, then up to a startling 1.9 in the fourth year) that the NCAA cannot possibly say, with a straight face, that their overriding concern is education. If it were, the GPA standard would be higher. No, their concern is with athletics. The student athlete is not, I think, under any pretension that he’s there to get an education. He’s there to play sports.


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Amen, amen! But ...

But high-power varsity athletics isn't athletics — not the way, say, intramurals are — but (clearly from what Mark and others have said) semi-professional sports, or, on the highest levels, just pro spectator sports. And they are spectator sports that are part of the problem of "Beer and Circus" on many university campuses.

So why not handle high-power varsity athletics like semi-pro sports and the minor leagues for the pros? Local semi-pro athletes could get "free" courses at the local Big U as part of their compensation package, but the package should be with an area semi-pro sports team and collegiate athletics could go back to amateur stuff for normal guys and gals.