It seems like almost every year, another scandal in college football is reported. Johnny Manziel allegedly signs autographs for cash. Cam Newton supposedly gets paid to play at Auburn. Ohio State players sell or trade memorabilia for tattoos. It has me (and a whole lot of other people) thinking: Why can’t we pay college athletes?
I’m not talking about paying them in the sense that they get a salary or stipend from the school, but more so that they should be allowed to make money if they can. So many of these kids that play for FBS schools are a part of a program that makes millions of dollars every year.
Here are a few thoughts to get you thinking. These all make the issue just a little more complicated.
1. They’re getting free education for 4 years (or more) if they stay at the school and remain healthy. They also have access to world-class coaching and training on top of being put in the national spotlight for all the NFL scouts to see.
2. If one player gets paid, all players have to get paid. Not just on the football team, but in all sports for both men and women. For schools that make quite a bit of money from athletics, this won’t hurt as bad. But, for schools that aren’t bringing in as much money, this will stretch their athletic budgets thin and possibly cause them to cut some programs in order to make ends meet.
3. If players are paid, it opens the door for schools to slide a little extra under the table. Not saying that it would happen, but if it did, can you imagine how hard it would be to police? So, taking all this into account, let’s look at the most recent case with Johnny Manziel. He signed autographs for a broker who supposedly paid him $7,500 to do so. The aftermath of this under the current NCAA rules ended up in an investigation which couldn’t prove he was paid, only that he signed autographs. It ultimately led to a half game suspension. That’s it. Now, if the rules were changed to allow players to make money from autographs or memorabilia, this would have never been news.
This proves to me that the rules should be changed and that schools shouldn’t be involved (and that includes boosters) in paying athletes. Let these players make their own money. Whether it’s from memorabilia, autographs or radio/TV appearances. If one player makes thousands of dollars and the guy next to him gets nothing, what does the school do? Nothing. That’s the answer. It’s up to the players to make money if they can. I know it won’t be easy at first, but eventually it will be business as usual.
Imagine how nice it would be to never see news about college athletes being involved in “scandals” about money ever again. At least then we could all focus on what really matters. The game on the field is much more entertaining than NCAA investigations.