CollegeStudents as Employees and not Just Students

Overa couple of decades ago, athletes from different colleges haveacquired immense popularity across the world, and most specificallyin the United States. Be it football, hockey, or basketball, eversince the beginning of the 21stcentury, inter-universities and colleges have brought in additionalrevenue to their respective colleges and universities as well asacquiring and increasing popularity of the respective universityreputation. In a study, for example, conducted by Orlando Sentinel,it was approximated that Texas University’s athletics programcontributed the highest amount of revenue of $120,200,704 than anyother university in the region. As much as this is a large sum ofmoney, it is unfortunate that student athletes are only considered asjust students and not part of a wider employee program. This papertherefore argues against the idea that students should just remain asstudents and not part of the employee payroll. In addition, thisresearch paper seeks to give reasons why student athletes should bepaid like any other employee.

Tobegin with, according to the NCAA rules, it states that “One is noteligible to participate in a sport if one has never taken pay, orgive promises to pay for taking part in a sport” (Cheville 88). Dueto this NCAA law, not only are student athletes experiencedifficulties in paying their college fees, but also a lot of collegeathletes are paid behind closed doors in the black markets. Theamateur athletes when not paid may not have the incentive to continuewith their college education to finish their education, and thusstand a risk of dropping out. While a lot of people may argue thatcollege athletes should not be paid since they are just collegestudents passing their time amidst classes, they main argument hereis that college athletes must be paid to ensure the safety,legitimacy, legality of college athletes.

Studentathletes must be regard just like other college employees andcompensated for their hard work since they are the main reason forthe surplus revenue received by the Athletics Program. Studentathletes are known to work hard and credit the respective college orthe university with money daily (Hart 111). And yet they are notrewarded by getting paid. The kind of work that college studentsoffer the school is very important but it seems to have not beennoticed. In any other section of any kind of a working place, notpaying the people who bring in revenue has never been seen and shouldalso not be seen here. Williams (245) also argues that collegeathletes have since been exploited by their respective colleges thatmake millions of dollars daily off of their intercollegiate students’athletes. He noted that colleges and universities are exploitingthese students and instead uses the revenue acquired to boost theirrising reputation without compensating them for their hard work.There are other critics also who claim that when thesestudents-athletes are paid, they are turned into professionalathletes and that they cease being just students. However, thisstatement can easily be disapproved since an amateur is a broader yetcontroversial term. For example, Amateur Hockey League (AHL) involveshockey players that are considered as amateurs yet they getcompensated for their athletics (Kaburakis 49).

Itbecomes a problem when college athletes are regarded as amateurs, andthis adds up to them not being paid. The NCAA rule states that“student-athletes should be regarded as amateurs and thereforeshould be shielded from exploitation by commercial and professionalenterprises” (Hagedorn &amp Horton 213). However, from thisstatement, it looks like colleges and universities become the only“entity that exploits them” (Kaplin et al. 99). According to Hart(91), the start of 2000, as a result of increasing cost of collegeand university education, the NCAA “recommended employment ofstudent-athletes job paying up to 2 thousand dollars over the schoolacademic year” (Cheville 101), whereby the pay can help offseteducation expenses. However, not only does the 2000 dollars offsetall the college education expenses, especially when one is not onscholarship program however, the NCAA does not allowstudent-athletes to pay their own fees.

Again,with all the precious time working and practicing in the learninghalls, how many student-athletes have all the time to look for a job?It is actually obvious that they are trying to look for one throughfield activities, ring, or the court. From the documentary by ESPN,the “fab five”, a group of college basketball student-athletesfrom Michigan University claimed that they found it hard watchingtheir jerseys on the stands and being aware that their numbers wereon them. They later went on to say that they were not receiving anymoney even through their promotional jerseys by Adidas. One of thefive members went on to say that he could not even afford the jerseystheir fans wore. He wanted to surprise his mother but he could not(Hart 190).

Anotherargument that supported the payment of college fees is that “fullride” scholarships offered to the best colleges does not even coverthe fees and other expenses. This is because many athletes do notactually afford to tell their parent to grace the tournament inside astadium to watch them play. In 2010 for example, Duke basketballplayers were estimated to be valued at 1,025,650 million dollarswhile the same basketball players were surviving with just 732million dollars, while the scholarship fall short of below 1,900thousand dollars (Kaplin et al. 109). With all the publicity andrespect that come with these athletes, it when unnoticed a great dealfor the Duke players that lived below the poverty line. With lack ofmoney, it result to creation of black-markets. With this, the boosterthat represents the college and university offer thisstudents-athletes with cars, spend money, and any other money, or anyother thing they want, and in turn, these student-athletes couldfully represent the college to the fullest.

Accordingto Williams (2006), there has been a lot of this kind of injusticebefore however, one major example is that of Reggie Bush that wasthe best running back of the South Carolina University between 2003and 2005. He was offered money by the boosters so that he can attendUSC, which ended up violating NCAA rules. Reggie Bush was criticizedheavily when all the violated rules were released and thus was forcedto return the Heisman trophy he had won earlier. As much as Bush’sactions were evidently wrong, and that he was forced to return thetrophy, it is hard to continue with criticism against him. ReggieBush at the time did not come from a wealthy family, and while he hada full-ride football scholarship, it was hard for him to cover allhis bills. Reggie Bush’s mother at the time was having difficultyin paying her rent. Almost the same time, the booster came in handyand offered Bush the money to offset his mother’s rent in Pasadena(Hagedorn &amp Horton 79). He felt obliged to take the offer sincethere was no other way available to make money to pay for hismother’s apartment. To put this into perspective, if Reggie Bush atthe time was being paid by NCAA, then he could have choose anyuniversity of his choice and that he could not have found a reason toaccept boosters’ offer. Subsequently, the actions of the boostersare not only considered as illegal, but also it create imbalance tothe level of competition in the NCAA. The universities that goagainst NCAA rules are advantaged in recruiting the top prospects inthe division (Kaburakis 61).

Anotherargument that is arguably the most important in the payment ofcollege students-athletes is that the majority of these collegeathletes will end up completing their respective degrees. By payingthe students-athletes, it offers the athletes a reason to remain tostay in school and clear their respective degrees instead ofabandoning it early to join the professional leagues just for money.If these student-athletes are paid for their activities, not onlycould they offset majority of their college expenses but also theywill have another reason to patient to finish their education.According to Kaplin et al. (87), the NCAA is proud that off all thestudent-athletes, they remain students in the first place and thenathletics follow however, it appears that most popularstudent-athletes are poached early for professionals. For example incollege basketball, a lot of freshman big stars is regarded as oneand done players while they complete a year in college and leave forpros earlier than is expected since they just want to make money asquick as possible, and thus the importance of their education fadesaway (Hart 109).

Mostof the colleges and universities appear to be hypocritical in theirdealings since it does not pay its student-athletes since they areoften in support of those student-athletes who decide to go pro earlyin their college education to evade having to pay them. According toWilliams (75), a college’s main objective is to offer its ownstudents with a quality studies and education that molds them tooperate out in the world as opposed to in the universities. However,without having to pay athletes, colleges leave its students withlimited or not option at all but to clear their students and withdrawafter a short period of time be it after a semester or a year so asto meet their financial constraints. It is very logical,logistically, for the colleges and universities to compensate theirathletes. Another author had suggested before that every singlecollege or university must pay the same flat rate to everystudent-athlete for a period of three years then raises the amountfor the senior athletes (Cheville 127). By this, the bonus couldcreate the incentives for every student to complete their educationand acquire their respective degrees.

Asmuch as it may appear unjust and odd for college athletes to be paid,it remains a reality that compensation of such athletes is becoming anecessity to not only keep the level of competition high but also toencourage the students to clear their education and acquire theirrespective degrees. The fact is that a lot of university athletes arecurrently being paid behind closed doors that create a shady blackmarket, which is not only illegal and opposed but also unfair to thecollege that sticks by the regulations of the NCAA. The colleges aretherefore exploiting these student-athletes and giving them reasonsfor not receiving any kind of revenue that they should legally earn.

Fromthe standpoint above on the reasons why student-athletes should bepaid and regarded as employees, there are also implications thatcould follow if they executed. To begin with, there was a time whenthe idea of starting to pay student-athletes came up, the status quodefenders put on a mask. They were terrified when they thought aboutthe implications of turning student-athletes into becoming employeesand also breaching amateurism walls. Long ago, the NCAA used to allowstudents to go pro in the sport they love while ensuring that theyretain eligibility in another sport. However, in recent times, fundshave been established in the NCAA since they noticed the implicationsthat could arose when they allow students to be paid. One of theimplications includes losing credibility of the NCAA thus it couldlead to the organization failing to control the money.

Thepoint is that, rules NCAA rules should uphold. It has to be knownthat one era in professionalism resulted to today’s quarterback,Russell Wilson of the Wisconsin. While the mind drifts, the rulesshould be left to evolve. It is hard to think of the implicationsthat could arise if NCAA all the members of the institution start topay every student-athlete. As much as we are aware that somestudent-athletes are paid in excess of 250,000 dollars behind closeddoors, others for fees, medical, books, room, board, tutoring, andphysical training, it should be known that it will have implicationswhen they turn professional since they could demand a lot of money,which could jeopardize the credibility of the league (121).

Again,when the payment is moved beyond that, for example paying the playersthat are full in the six-figure stadiums, again thosestudent-athletes that promotes the alma-mater brands, also the femalestudent-athletes since who could need a law suit. When the wholebudget is worked out, its magnanimous effect could be felt since moremoney could be in the students pocket which impact on the overallfinancial budget. Kaplin et al. (53) noted that when that is done,the amount of money paid to the students could result to a hugedifference and could exceed the amount acquired from the attendance.These could mean the students will have been termed as employeesinstead. From these, being categorized as employees, the situationwill have a number of implications. First, as employees, a few or allthe scholarships student-athletes receive for their upkeep will betaxed as income.

Secondly,when they become aware that they have become employees, they willstart to unionize. From this, the university could be eligible andresponsible for any wrongful actions that could lead to injuries thatare worth of compensation. For example, a university might have aplayer that is known to be a bit aggressive and in the course ofaggression, he or she punches another player in the face. This is anexample of a potential suit. When the victim supposedly suffers avery serious injury, the possibility of the opposing player suing notonly the player but the whole university is high (Hart 172).

Thirdly,when they are termed as employees, chances are they might jeopardizethe courts’ case history of revealing the differences to theathletics, which remains part of the university’s mission ioneducation. The judges could be forced to change their aggression andattitude, and so is the Internal Revenue Service since educationalmission of the respective university could be called so that it couldaccount for purposeful taxation. The profits that could have beengenerated by the department of athletics may be classified to be anexample of unrelated income in business and also the subject tocorporate rates’ taxation. The least could mean the university,chances are, might be giving jobs to accountants at a certain rateswhere the football instructors could hire assistants that dealquality controls since unlike the later, they are not cheap.

Oncethe thread is pulled out, the whole sweater could unravel. Whencolleges make profits, Hagedorn and Horton (101) noted that it couldresult to serious implications as in whether sponsorships couldregard it as a deduction in tax. This could not only include sponsorsthat pays the games but also the payment of those advertisements onhuge screens above the stadium facades.

Again,if the students are turned into employees, they could automaticallyturn into compensation of workers that have experienced injuries inthe past unless the government passes legislation that exempts allthe student-athletes from incurring coverage (Cheville 98).

Inconclusion, as much as there are more advantages than disadvantagesfor turning student-athletes into employees, they are also a sense ofsensitivity before executing the process. Such issues could mean NCAAmembers might tangle if at the entire student scholarships are turnedinto salaries. It means that all of the student-athletes could beworked out, in which it may result into havoc on universities andcolleges sports.


Cheville,J. (2001). Minding the body: What student athletes know aboutlearning. Portsmouth, NH: Boynton/Cook-Heinemann

Hagedorn,L. S., &amp Horton, D. (2009). Student athletes and athletics. SanFrancisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Hart,A. (2004). Neglected voices: Division I student-athletes` perceptionsof the NCAA rules and regulations. Pullman, Wash: Washington StateUniversity.

Kaburakis,A. (2005). NCAA DI amateurism and international prospective studentathletes: The professionalization threshold.

Kaplin,W. A., Lee, B. A., &amp Kaplin, W. A. (2009). A legal guide forstudent affairs professionals. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Williams,C. L. (2006) Differentiation of perceptions towards payingstudent-athletes among non-athletic students.