I don’t feel student-athletes should get hundreds of thousands of dollars, but like I said, there are hungry nights that I go to bed and I’m starving.
College sports is a $19 billion industry, but under NCAA rules, college athletes who make the revenue possible, cannot be compensated based on their athletic talents. That means no pay for endorsements, appearances, or the use of their name or likeness—and no sports-related internships, apprenticeships, and training opportunities with employers.
This NCAA compensation policy is unfair, especially for athletes from low-income families. Financial assistance helps, but it’s usually limited. Only three-in-five Division I and II athletes receive scholarships and those are mostly partial scholarships.
Although working non-sports-related part-time jobs is an option, athletes have fewer opportunities than other college students due to the extra demands on their time. As a result, college athletes often struggle to meet their most basic needs.
66% of Americans support allowing college athletes to earn compensation from endorsements.
Associated Press poll, January 2020
The state of play
College athletes, policymakers, and the public are demanding change.
Two-thirds of Americans support letting college athletes earn pay from endorsements and officials in six states have passed laws permitting athlete compensation for use of name, image, and likeness—with more states considering similar reforms.
In Congress, several lawmakers from both parties have proposed reforms to college athlete compensation, but no bill currently has enough support to pass. Bills that address only name, image, and likeness are too limiting. Other legislation goes too far and could potentially create legislative gridlock.
Fans for Fair Play is creating a bipartisan coalition to elevate the voices of college athletes, educate fans and lawmakers, and drive debate on workable solutions to enact federal legislation that brings fairness to college athlete compensation.
To reform college sports, we need a system that stands up for college athletes and allows them to be fairly compensated for their talent and sacrifices. Reform must not only benefit a few top players and elite programs. It must expand opportunity for all college athletes to earn fair pay and long-term success.
There are many possible reforms with broad support, some of which include:
- Allow athletes to earn pay for use of their name, image, and likeness.
- Allow athletes to trade endorsements for paid internships, apprenticeships, and training with employers.
- Allow boosters to create trust funds or annuities for athletes who don’t make it in the pro-leagues after they graduate, increasing the benefits of their college sports career if they earn a degree.
The right reforms can help athletes maximize the value of their time in college and then “go pro” in any career they choose.