March 23, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 50°F


Pay for play?

If you’re like me, ESPN’s probably near the top of your list of most visited sites, if not at the top. But what you might not have noticed on the Worldwide Leader’s website yesterday was an article about a report commissioned by the National College Players Association on the financial value of major college athletes.

The report was co-written by none other than Dr. Ellen Staurowsky, who currently teaches at Drexel University in Philadelphia but who until recently taught right here at Ithaca College in the Sports Management and Media Department.

What stood out about this report enough for it to find its way onto however, is the assertion by Staurowsky and her co-author, former UCLA linebacker Ramogi Huma, that the average fair-market value of big-time college football and men’s basketball players is over $100,000. Actually, the report even says that the financial value of the average Division I-A/FBS football player is $121,000 per year and the average men’s Division I player is worth $265,000 per year.

Full disclosure: I’m actually in favor of paying college athletes or at least raising the stipends and scholarships they get to match the actual cost of living for a college student in 2011, as opposed to the average current levels, which would have worked just great in say, 1951 but might not work so well 60 years later.

But one of the big questions about paying college athletes is what happens for college athletes who DON’T happen to be FBS football players or men’s Division I basketball players. What about the Division I athletes in non-moneymaking sports like fencing, wrestling, field hockey, swimming, etc.? What about the smaller Division I schools or the schools with FCS programs where they’re still technically Division I but nowhere near as profitable or poplar as FBS programs? And what about the schools outside Division I, especially schools in the non-scholarship Division III like our own Ithaca College?

How do you estimate the financial worth of college players outside the media circus of Division I football and basketball? Do you force schools to pay money they don’t necessarily have in an effort to enforce equality? Or do you tell what’s really the majority of college athletes that because their sport and/or school doesn’t make enough money or have a nice enough TV deal or any TV deal for that matter that they can’t get paid like the stars at say, Syracuse?

This is not to say that college athletes shouldn’t be paid. I still think some of them should be. But this entire issue comes with tons of tough questions that don’t necessarily have clear answers right now. All the more reason we should be starting this discussion now.