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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Fit to be king
Lilli Dellheim '25 M.A., Special to the Hawk • July 13, 2024

Paying student athletes is bad news for college sports


On Sept. 16, New York Sen. Kevin Parker proposed a bill that would allow college athletes to sell the right to their names, images, and likenesses to advertisers. This bill would be revolutionary in the way that it would make New York the first state to require colleges to pay the athletes that compete for them directly. 

Sen. Parker has also added an amendment to his bill that would require university athletic departments to evenly distribute 15 percent of all annual revenue generated by athletics to all student-athletes who compete for the school. Sen. Parker took inspiration from California’s Fair Pay to Play Act that was signed into law on Sept. 30, which allows student-athletes to make money from their image and likeness.

While the movement to get college athletes paid has gained a large amount of support, from the likes of LeBron James and Bernie Sanders, there are still some components of the issue that need to be addressed and clarified. For one thing, demanding that college athletic departments would distort the line between being an amateur athlete and a professional one. College athletes would no longer be competing for the love of the sport, but rather chasing a paycheck. 

One glaring issue with requiring school athletic departments to compensate athletes is the question of how will each individual sports program raise the money to pay its athletes? The answer is they can’t. 

Anybody can go on Google and look up how much money is generated by big-name powerhouse schools in each major sport and see that most programs generate tens of millions of dollars. It is easy for most people to think that all of this money goes into the pockets of the executives at these big-name programs, but this just simply is not the case. 

Many people fail to take into account the costs that go into maintaining and running a team as big as the University of Alabama football team for example. Stadiums have to be maintained, coaching and training staff have to be paid, travel accommodations have to be financed, and so on. There are a multitude of expenses that go into running a college athletic program, and most of the revenue generated has to go back into keeping the program running. 

Something else to consider is that not all college sports programs generate the necessary revenue to keep them running. To keep using Alabama as an example, I would be willing to bet that some of the revenue generated by bigger programs such as football goes into running smaller programs like rowing and golf. 

While I used Alabama as an example of a Division I football program that turns a profit, the fact of the matter is that the majority of Division I athletic programs do not turn a profit, and the NCAA has publicized the earnings of many major Division I programs.

Allowing colleges to pay athletes directly would also give powerhouse programs an unfair advantage in recruiting. 

The schools with the most lucrative sports programs would be able to easily lure the biggest name recruits to play for them, solely based off of the prospect of being able to pay the athlete more than any other school. Making it easier for the biggest schools to get the best recruits would create a static environment where the best schools stay on top and other schools have virtually no chance of ever competing with them. 

Considering that this issue is gaining traction and entering the national spotlight, I encourage you to do some research yourself and look deeper into the numbers behind your favorite college football team. 

Read the opposing opinion here.

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