Academic Master


Why athletes in colleges and universities should be paid

The statement that athletic scholarships provide a ‘free education’ is not true. Before the 1950s, athletic scholarships provided by the NCAA only included tuition and fees. The NCAA later approved the addition of stipends to athletic scholarships. Scholarships can be worth around $30,000 to $200,000 over a four-year period, depending on the institution attended. Despite this scholarship being worth so much, it does not cover the whole cost of attending college.

According to estimates of The Collegiate Athletes Coalition (CAC), NCAA scholarships are worth around $2000 less worth than the cost involved in attending university (per year) since it does not cover expenses such as travel costs and sundries. Former United States Congressman and Nebraska football coach Tom Osborne estimated the gap between the actual cost of attending a university and the scholarship funding to be around $3000. This approach of providing the whole cost of attendance proves that athletic scholarships do not give free education to athletes. To complete the whole cost of attending a university, athletes have to pay around $2000 to $3000 per year out of their pockets to fill the gap in the cost of living, and hence, student-athletes should be paid.

Another reason why athletes in colleges and universities should be paid is because the athletic programs they are involved in bring in a lot of money, and by a lot, I mean hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars to the universities. The universities make this lot of money through donations, media rights, ticket sales, advertising, sponsorships, or anything else that can pay. When a university attains a huge scientific achievement, they appear for only a few days in the newspapers, but the same universities’ athletic teams remain in the newspapers all year round. This illustrates the value of university athletics and how much is at

stake. Another point is that the coaches of the athletic teams earn about $100,000 per year to coach a major sport, be it basketball, baseball, or football at an institution. They receive bonuses when they win championships, break school records, or when they get to playoffs. Compared to their coaches, student-athletes never receive any bonus or payment to compensate for their hard work and efforts. NCAA executives are also paid huge sums of money amounting to about $1 million per year. This illustrates that athletes should be paid and compensated because of the large amounts of money involved in student athletics.

Lastly, student-athletes are not aware of the ‘real deal.’ Student-athletes only know that they are attaining a scholarship, which allows them to go to school and play an athletics game. In the real sense, they do not know that they are entering a “plantation-like” system where they are not guaranteed a scholarship. These scholarships can be brought to an end at any time. This system makes student-athletes puppets and slaves to be controlled by their masters (colleges and universities). They must do whatever the universities/colleges require of them. Student-athletes sign athletic-based scholarships with expectations that they will be offered some form of compensation despite the fact that they know they won’t be paid directly. Offering student-athletes scholarships for degree completion and academic achievement makes no sense as it is very unlikely that they will succeed in their academics. This purely illustrates why student-athletes should be paid since they do not benefit from the scholarships offered to them.


Hartnett, T. (2013). Why college athletes should be paid. Retrieved from

Johnson, D. A., & Acquaviva, J. (2012). Point/counterpoint: paying college athletes. Retrieved from



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