Archived Story

Pay one, pay them all?

Published 7:58pm Monday, April 21, 2014

One of the most prevalent questions you’ll come across in the sports world is whether or not college athletes should be paid.
There’s a lot of sound arguments out there for it, namely the amount of revenue they bring their member schools and the positive effect they could have on growth and exposure of a given athletics program or a college itself.
Yes, studies out there actually suggest that the success of a college athletics team directly led to increased enrollment for new students.
Me personally, I go back and forth in my mind about paying college athletes. On one hand, they are a huge source of money for a given school.
They make money, so logically they should be entitled to some of it, right? I usually come to the conclusion that athletes (and students) that are awarded scholarships should receive full cost of attendance, a.k.a. a legitimate full ride. I’ll get back to the students in a bit.
But in general, most schools have one or two big-time money making sports and because of that, the athletics program as a whole is able to stay afloat or thrive.
For the Texases and the Alabamas of the world, that’s football.
For Kentucky and Connecticut, that’s likely basketball.
So, if you want to pay college athletes, then you should only have to pay those who bring in the money.
But is that fair to the other athletes? Probably not, but here’s a better question: Is that fair to the academic scholars?
Hear me out on this one.
Take Missouri, for instance. This has the number one journalism school in the country. This is probably due to the success of past alums, awards won by student publications or the school itself, and a strong curriculum, which makes it the most desired destination for hopeful journalists.
I’d say the typical five-star recruit (who is probably going to be one of the biggest cash cows for a given university assuming he or she plays to her potential) looks at the success of an athletics program, as well as whether or not the alums go on to succeed professionally.
Additionally, just as a five-star recruit and the subsequent success of that athlete can lure other five-star recruits, top students and their success at the school can lure the eye of other top students, ultimately bringing more prestige to said school.
But you hear not one peep about paying our top academic minds. I guess their “full-rides” are enough.
Perhaps this may be because you can quantify the impact an athlete can have on an overall program, and maybe the athlete is more important that the student, despite the latter making up the majority.
That may be the case, but this brings me to my next question.
If that’s the case,  then why does “student” comes before “athlete” in “student-athlete?”
Perhaps that’s a shame. Who would have thought that?
Bailey is sports editor for The Outlook.