Due to recent allegations and accusations of unfair “financial aid” from boosters and negative publicity surrounding certain schools, cough USC and Michigan cough, it seems appropriate to address the long-standing debate of whether college athletes should be paid or receive endorsements.
The answer to receiving payments should be decisively and unequivocally no.
The word student in the phrase student-athlete should not be forgotten, even in the face of a multi-billion dollar collegiate athletics industry.
Paying student-athletes would be a waste of the moral fiber and joy of receiving an athletic scholarship.
If these athletes were to receive pay, they would be given such an advantage over their peers, it would likely cross the threshold of fairness.
After all, a lack of monetary assistance is one of the few things remaining that firmly separates college sports from the professional level.
As it stands currently, many athletes are able to attend prestigious schools they normally would not be able to, whether it be for a lack of financial resources, or the lack of grades and standardized test scores usually required to gain admittance to a school as a mortal — more commonly known as your ordinary student.
Receiving a college education for free and obtaining the academic and social benefits that go along with being a scholarship athlete prove to be more than enough to aid the average athlete.
However, when it comes to forbidding any sort of endorsement deals, the NCAA is wrong.
While receiving pay for simply playing a sport at the college level is morally unjust, cashing in on endorsement opportunities is not.
Many college athletes are larger than life individuals on and off their respective campuses and if given the chance would bring in loads of money from Nike, Under Armour and the like.
John Wall would already have a shoe, presumably with Nike, and would be on his way to making a fortune.
Then again, he already is on his way to making a fortune.
Waiting a year to cash in on these opportunities may prevent a kid like Wall from exploding onto the scene too early, but it’s wrong to not let him market his play, his face and his name.
It simply goes against the “American Dream” to prevent someone from cashing in on his or her fame.
You may be wondering, isn’t it a slippery slope to allow college athletes to make money for themselves, even though the college game is built around a team atmosphere?
I’m not questioning whether or not the college game emphasizes, maybe even mandates, team play better than the professional ranks. I am simply stating that college athletes deserve the opportunity to receive endorsements for the countless hours of practice, films and traveling they encounter.
The demand placed upon an athlete is much higher than is commonly thought.
One is required not only to maintain a proper image, but also to obtain good grades (sort of) while also practicing several days a week.
Student-athletes are held to a much higher standard than their peers.
Obtaining a shoe deal or representing a nearby restaurant would not endanger the innocence or purity of any sport on the collegiate level.
If anything, endorsements would enhance the collegiate game.
College stars would become more recognized nationally, and jersey sales would bring in loads of extra money to athletic departments.
And no, I’m not talking about those jerseys we always see for sale without last names.
I want to see a number three jersey with “Hughes” on the back, being repped by an adolescent Wisconsinite.
Video games also would be instantly enhanced, as the rights of names, and not only numbers, would become available to such games as EA Sports’ NCAA Basketball series.
Thoughts of dunking as Derrick Rose in college at Memphis bring shivers down my spine.
In a time of economic uncertainty, additional revenue being pumped into athletic departments certainly should not be turned away.
As we hear at nearly every Badger home game, the athletic department supports 23 varsity sports, including 20 non-revenue sports.
The sad truth is only three sports — football, men’s basketball and men’s hockey — actually produce a financial surplus.
These three sports do bring in a substantial amount of money to the athletic department, but it still is very difficult to obtain the funds to properly support the other 20 sports.
If a percentage of endorsement money cashed in by players from the big three sports were shared among the remaining sports, it would be one of the easiest ways to fundraise.
And c’mon, please tell me it doesn’t make sense for freshman forward Ryan Evans to represent Flat Top Grill at nearby Hilldale Mall.
Maybe some of the charm of the college game would be compromised from these supposed prima donna players, but ultimately the exposure and revenue the endorsement deals would bring in for the schools would be worth it.
Oh, and just for the record, if endorsements are ever actually put into place and jerseys with names are released; I will buy Badger Herald Sports Editor Jordan Schelling an audaciously awesome No. 50 Ian Markolf jersey.
Wouldn’t that be a sight.