College athletes should be allowed to make money off paid sponsorships

Shane Fricke

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With March Madness underway, the debate of whether or not college athletes should be paid is going to be a hot topic. The most reasonable solution seems to be that college athletes should get paid, but not by the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) or the college that athlete is attending. However, athletes should be allowed to get paid through commercial deals, shoe deals and other paid sponsorships from outside companies to support them throughout college.

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The NCAA is a member-led organization dedicated to the well-being and lifelong success of college athletes according to their website. NCAA rules and regulations state, “You (the athlete) are not eligible in any sport if, after collegiate enrollment, you accept any pay for promoting a commercial product or service or allow your name or picture to be used for promoting a commercial product or service” in their bylaws #12.5.2.1 and #12.5.2.2. A paid sponsorship could be anything from getting paid to wear their shoes all season or a ten second-cameo in the company’s commercial. Colleges can sign paid sponsorship deals with companies and make their players wear the merchandise, however individual college players lack this ability.

In 2015, companies spent 1.1 billion dollars sponsoring college athletics but the athletes wearing the products didn’t receive any of this money. College athletes should be allowed to receive paid sponsorships from outside companies because they deserve compensation for the time and effort they spend on college sports.

For college athletes, their sport is similar to a full-time job with no pay, and that is aside from also managing school. According to a 2011 NCAA survey, the average college athlete spends a minimum of 30 hours a week practicing or playing with some sports averaging over 40 hours a week.

Former Stanford student and cornerback for the Seattle Seahawks, Richard Sherman, described how difficult a college schedule can be.
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“You wake up in the morning and you have weights at this time. Then after weights you go to class. Then after class you go to grab a quick bite to eat. Then after you get your quick bite to eat you go straight to meetings. Then after meetings you have practice. Then after practice you have to do all your school work and studying,” Sherman said.

 Aside from these packed schedules, some athletes also have jobs, so that they are able to pay for both their education and food. Shabazz Napier, former guard for the University of Connecticut, said in an interview after a game, “Some nights I go to bed starving… we do have hungry nights where we don’t have enough money to get food.” Despite athletes generating billions of dollars for their universities and the NCAA, they still aren’t getting paid. If athletes were able to make money from their collegiate sport, having the freedom to get a paid sponsorship, they would be able to spend more time focusing on their sport and their education.   

The NCAA is a non-profit organization, meaning they spend money on lodging for players during tournaments, bonuses to schools that win major tournaments and scholarship funds, along with many other expenses. Universities should not take money away from these expenses to pay every individual athlete who plays for the NCAA. In addition, the universities should not be responsible for paying the players because they already provide enough for them through expert coaching, free access to state of the art facilities and in some cases completely free education and housing. Instead, universities should focus all of their money on their school’s education rather than an athletes income. Paid sponsorships don’t take money away from the actual universities to improve their programs, but instead give players the money they deserve for the time and effort they spend playing that sport.

In the NBA, many athletes are showcased in commercials and are sponsored by major companies. Although many NBA players are individually sponsored, the NBA and the teams also have their own paid sponsorships. NBA teams still keep the logos of companies on their jerseys, name their stadiums after companies and have multiple logos featured on their court. This shows that aside from the money athletes deserve to be paid, colleges could continue make money from sponsors. Some companies want to put their logo on a player’s jerseys and the court that they play on, and they should be able to.    

College athletes deserve to be paid, but the universities and NCAA should not be spending their own money to pay these athletes. Instead, paid sponsorships from outside companies could relieve these overworked athletes from the pressure and time of a job. Without the stress of a job, athletes can focus more on college courses and less on making enough money to eat. With these paid sponsorships, the incentive for college athletes to stay in school longer will increase dramatically.