We’re opening up a conversation about whether or not student athletes should be paid. The NCAA says they’re not employees entitled to payment. Others say their work earn millions, and they should be compensated.
Monday’s “Radio Times” featured an enlightening conversation with former Penn basketball player Stephen Danley and Wharton professor Ken Shropshire about whether student athletes should be paid. Even those who think they should be paid agree that there are no easy answers.
An Atlantic article last September by civil rights historian Taylor Branch, “The Shame of College Sports,” which was subsequently lauded by NPR commentator Frank Deford, makes a compelling case in favor of it.
Those who oppose the idea point out that many of the athletes are already compensated in other ways, through scholarships and housing stipends and the opportunities that follow. Also, only some programs, such as basketball and football, are money-makers for universities, and any system to pay students would be complicated and unfair.
The NCAA maintains that because student-athletes are students first and athletes second, they are not professional employees entitled to payment. Branch says that’s part of the problem: The “amateur” status is a fake designation. And Danley and Shropshire say that student athletes are routinely taken advantage of and do not have it nearly as easy as one might imagine.
Whatever the case, university athletic programs and coaches make millions on the backs of their student athletes. Should college athletes be compensated for their performance? If so, how would such a system work fairly? Does it depend on the program and the level of player?