Mommy, it’s happening again.


Guest Writer Matt Monks, Delaware 105.9 Talk Show Host

The discussion begins anew. Should D-1 college athletes be paid? Oh the outrage, the hand wringing and teeth gnashing by those who claim college athletes are being “pimped” out and it’s not fair. There, there now. Here’s a tissue. Dry your eyes. Since we’re in the heart of March Madness, now is a great time to debate whether college student-athletes should be paid or not.

People who think college student-athletes should be paid often say the students’ names and images are used on products and in advertising so they should receive some of the profits. Of course, they forget to mention it’s the schools themselves that are paying to promote the athletes in the first place.

A 2013 survey found that 69% of the public is opposed to paying student-athletes. Those who say college student-athletes should not be paid argue that they receive scholarships as a form of payment for their talents, and that should be enough.

Think college football, baseball or basketball. In these cases, the fact is the student-athletes are part of a team. One of many. Unless it’s golf, wrestling, or tennis. Then again, when was the last time you watched a college wrestling, golf or tennis match?
Then it begs the question, how would you compensate the wrestlers, golfers and tennis players? I mean, if you’re going to compensate the team sport athletes, don’t you have to pay ALL scholarship athletes. Let’s look at some facts and figures. If you are a college student athlete on a full ride scholarship, here’s the compensation you already receive:

Out of state Tuition: $40,000 annually
Room & Board: $9,000 annually
Books & Supplies: $1,000 annually
Personal & Misc. Expense: $2,000 annually
Pell Grant Recipients: $5,500 annually

Plus they receive medical, free training (how much does your personal trainer cost?), equipment, athletic supplies, tutoring & uniforms. How much is that worth.
The hard costs alone amount to $57,500.00 per year. Take that out to 4 years while earning a degree and that’s a minimum grand total of $230,000.00 compensation without incurring any student debt.

But what about those standouts? What about those that are going pro? Shouldn’t the compensation rules be changed to benefit them? Fair question. Let’s review a few more numbers and this time, let’s look at basketball players. Why? Because there’s fewer guys on a basketball team so the numbers should look better than if we were using football players as an example.

First, let it be known that high school basketball players DO NOT have to play in college. They only have to be 1 year removed from high school before they can declare for the NBA draft. That’s the crux of the “one and done rule”.

High school senior players who are eventually drafted by an NBA team amount to about 3 in 10,000. That translates to 0.03%. That means more than 99% of High School senior basketball players won’t be DRAFTED by the NBA. 0.03% is roughly the chance of getting 4 of a kind in the first round of draw poker.

Now let’s look at college. The number of NCAA senior players that are actually drafted by an NBA team is LESS THAN 1 in 75. That translates to 1.3%. Remember, that’s just DRAFTED! That doesn’t mean they’ll play in the NBA. It just means they’ve been chosen. G League or Europe could be their lot. So tell me again how NCAA scholarship players are being given a raw deal?

Every time we launch into this debate I find it laughable because we’re talking about VERY FEW INDIVIDUALS who are truly at the fore when it comes to paying college athletes. Christian Laettner, Doug Flutie, Carmelo Anthony, Brian Bosworth, Bo Jackson and Johnny Manziel are a few that jump to mind.

But since when do we overhaul the entire student athlete compensation paradigm for the 1%’ers? Since when do we change an entire system when 99% of the student athletes will never make a dime playing professional sports? For that matter, how can you determine with certainty it’s the individual athlete who made the school, rather than saying it’s actually the school who made the athlete?

Even Helen Keller can see the chances of making it as a professional athlete are slimmer than Calista Flockhart. Maybe the scholarship student athlete should spend more time enjoying the educational opportunities provided them – free of charge and free of debt – and less time worrying about something that doesn’t concern over 99% of them.

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