By Josh Mabry, Viking Fusion Sports Director
MOUNT BERRY, Ga. – College athletes deserve to be paid for their likeness. However, college athletes, especially college athletes who attend a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I (DI) college, should not be paid based on their athletic abilities because many of them already receive pay in the form of scholarships that often completely cover their tuition.
The debate on whether or not college athletes should be paid, more specifically whether or not college athletes deserve to be paid for their likeness, is bigger now than it has ever been since California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed the Fair Pay to Play Act.
According to a Washington Post article, the California bill allows college athletes to be paid for their image and likeness. College athletes can be paid in these areas through endorsements and autograph signings.
In response to the California bill, many argue that student athletes should be paid for their athletic abilities as well.
Angel Mason, director of athletics at Berry College, said that, based partly on her amazing experience as a DI student-athlete at Butler University, she does not believe that college athletes should be paid for their athletic abilities. (Mason said that she also believes that college athletes should not be paid for their likeness, however).
“If we want to say that intercollegiate should become professional, then that’s the only place that there should be payment for athletics,” Mason said.
While student athletes are not paid in the same way that professional athletes are paid, as stated above, there is a potential for them to be paid through scholarships, except at the Division III (DIII) level. This is why college athletes should not be paid for their athletic abilities. Their payment is getting an education, plus several more benefits, that is either partly or completely paid for.
Mason said that with her scholarship at Butler, in addition to her classes and books being paid for, her housing was paid for and she had a good meal plan. This shows all the benefits that college athletes at DI institutions, as well as other institutions that offer athletic scholarships, receive.
Jordan Leitch, senior setter on the Berry volleyball team, said that she also disagrees with student athletes being paid for their athletic abilities. There is no love solely for the game anymore, according to Leitch. People are just interested in the monetary aspect of sports.
“I think for one thing it is an unfair bill to pass because there are DIII schools that don’t even give out athletic scholarships, so why not put that money towards those athletes who still have the hopes of playing college while getting a great education?,” Leitch said.
While I do not believe in college athletes being paid for athletic abilities, as stated above, I think that student athletes should be paid for their image and likeness. They should not have to sign away rights that would allow them to have control over something that relates directly to who they are.
Look at college students who are not athletes. If someone ever wanted to use a student who is not an athlete in an endorsement campaign, that student would be compensated because there is no governing body preventing a non-athlete student from being paid. It is only fair for athletes to have the same right.
In addition to this, Olympic athletes, such as Simone Biles, are paid for their likeness, so college athletes should have the same right.
Brian Meehan, assistant professor of economics at Berry, said that a person making money off of their likeness, a model that he called the Olympic Model, will ultimately benefit college athletics.
“As a working model right now, the Olympic model is a step in the right direction for college athletes,” Meehan said. “It’s better for the athletes. They’ll have a higher standard of living.”
Meehan said that the NCAA responded to California bill by calling college athletes amateurs. This argument is invalid because it is typical to see these athletes being paid behind the scenes, which makes them not exactly amateurs.
“This fantasy of about this amateurism in sports just doesn’t exist,” Meehan said.
The NCAA needs to continue offering students what it offers in terms of being paid to play. However, the rules regarding athletes not being able to be paid for their image needs to be changed.