Why College Athletes Should Not Be Paid?

This is a debate that has been going on for a while. There are many reasons why people feel that college athletes do not deserve to be paid. And this all has to do with scholarships and stipends.

Why College Athletes Should Not Be Paid?

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Why should college athletes not be paid?

  • College athletes have a much better financial position than other students.
  • Their scholarships cover all the necessary school funds.
  • The stipends they receive cover all their living costs.
  • If they work well with their money, they could save thousands of dollars by the end of their college careers.
  • This is not a position most students can enjoy.
  • The publicity of their sports career puts them in contact with many potential future employers.
  • Because of the pressure they are under with both their studies and the sports requirements, college athletes learn a strong work ethic that future employers find highly desirable.
  • They are financially in a much better position because all their needs are taken care of so that they can focus on sports.
  • Not only does this mean monthly stipends, but also extra resources to be able to keep and with all their classwork.
  • These are not luxuries that most students have access to.
  • Most students have to hold down at least one job to be able to pay for their tuition and living costs, and in some cases, they even need two.
  • Most of the finances will be spent on funding the more popular sports.
  • This means that many minor sports will not have access to the funding for the sports, leaving these athletes without access to the necessary equipment that they need.
  • Because of this, many minor sports will be cut completely out of the school extracurriculars.
  • Because colleges are a service provided, the athletes should be treated just like any other students.
  • This means that they are there to learn the necessary skill they need to succeed, not to be paid for something they received a scholarship for.
  • As many athletes would not have joined certain colleges without a sports scholarship, paying them will be deemed unfair, as this shows favoritism towards these athletes.

Sports scholarships

Many college athletes are accepted into the college due to their outstanding performance in certain sports. While their grades may not necessarily be what is required, the scholarship ensures that they are accepted, as it will benefit the school sports team.

This means that students who worked hard to get into certain colleges, lose certain resources that may help them keep their grades up or improve their experience in college, as these extra resources are spent helping these college athletes to keep up in school and maintain the required grades they need to stay on the team. If they do not have these grades, not only are they kicked off the team, but they lose the scholarship. This means that they are effectively kicked out of school.

Because many of these athletes are at the school on a scholarship, this means that their tuition gets paid for them for at least four years. They are also given access to services that are not provided to other college students. They get the best of everything, even though many other students struggle to get their basic needs met.

While many students struggle to stay in college due to their financial problems, there are just as many students that don’t have that problem. They have access to many facilities that provide them with some of the best equipment they can get. But even so, college athletes have access to even more.

Which sport gets funding?

Because of the number of sports a college usually offers, there is one very big debate.

Which sport should be funded?

There are popular sports like basketball and football, but then there are minor sports like golf and tennis. How does someone choose which sport gets the funding and which does not?

Choosing the popular sports will leave the other sports without funding, and how exactly does someone choose which sport is more important? 

Football and basketball are two of the most well-known college sports. These earn millions in revenue and are some of the main reasons that several colleges still remain afloat. But where does this money go?

Most of this money tends to go to the coaches, trainers, and other staff working on these sports teams. What doesn’t go to them, goes to the school. This leaves the athletes themselves with very little earnings and in some cases none.

So the question is do the athletes need to be paid or not? Because all their expenses at the school are already taken care of, and they can have thousands of dollars saved if they use their stipend wisely, the general consensus is that they should not be paid.

There is also the fact that if the athletes of the more popular sports are paid, then it is only fair that all the other athletes in the school be paid as well. If this were to be done, the colleges will be bankrupt within a very short amount of time. 

Another problem with paying the athletes of the more popular sports, and not paying the rest, is the very real risk of having a discrimination suit filed against them.

This is why the debate over paying college athletes is something that comes up annually. So far the general consensus has been that the payment scheme should not be put into effect, but there is a great number of people that disagree with this decision.

Arguments against paying athletes

Here are the normal NCAA work requirements for an athlete:

  • 20 hours of work every week for 21 weeks
  • One day off every week
  • 8 hours of work a week for 23 weeks
  • 8 weeks off

This is 604 hours of work throughout the entire year. Which is a total of 11 hours every week. On top of that, athletes get a scholarship that pays for all of their schooling needs and a stipend that covers all their other expenses as well.

Many other students work part-time jobs that require many more hours of work every week, and they only receive $8 to $10 an hour. This barely allows them to cover their school fees and housing needs.

This is the biggest argument made against paying athletes made by Penn State assistant coach Jay Paterno, son of Joe Paterno.

Here is the payment most athletes receive at Arizona State University:

  • In-state students – $15921 – this includes housing and tuition
  • Out of state students – $28521 – this includes housing and tuition

 These costs exclude all the extra money that is spent on tutors and extra resources to ensure that the athletes maintain the grades they need.

This means that in-state students receive a “payment” of $26.36 an hour, and out-of-state students receive $46.77 an hour. Along with this, they receive a degree that is worth between $20 000 and $30 000, which does not leave them with any debts.

This goes to prove the difference between what college athletes and normal college students receive. These numbers are based on the football team, and not basketball teams or other athletes.

These numbers have sparked very controversial debates as to what should and what should not be allowed with regards to payment.

The differences in these numbers and what students that are not in popular sports programs, or students that have to work to pay their tuition have put in perspective what the differences are.

One of the things that are not usually considered when thinking about paying athletes is the effect that it will have on the sports department and its finances.

 Because the sports departments are dependent on the revenue brought in by the sports teams, if they were to start paying the athletes, the sports departments will start to crumble. 


Here are the questions that are mostly asked during these discussions:

  • I play a minor sport at university. How would paying other athletes affect me?

If the athletes of the major sports teams were to be paid, most of the funding that the school receives for sports will be diverted to paying those players.

These funds will have to be drawn from the other sports departments, and this will result in many of the minor sports having to be cut.

As many athletes in minor sports are also at school with scholarships, having the sport be cut from the curriculum will result in students losing those scholarships and having to leave the school because of it.

  • Why do college athletes get scholarships if their grades aren’t good enough?

Many college athletes get a scholarship because they are scouted by the college sports departments for their talents.

If the sports coach feels like the player will be a good fit for the team and will bring success to the team, these athletes will be offered a scholarship to the school.

While their grades may not be completely what is needed, the athletes need to maintain a certain standard to be able to play the sport in high school and stay on the team. 

If these grades are not maintained, they will be removed from the team and will lose any chance of receiving a scholarship to a university.

So it may not be exactly what the college requires, but they do need to maintain certain grades to be able to be considered for it.

  • Why does everyone argue about paying the athletes?

The most intrinsic part of the argument is the fact that athletes already receive so much, that paying them would not only severely undermine the finances of the school but will give them even more privileges that other students do not have access to.

Athletes already have free schooling because of their scholarships and don’t have any financial struggles due to their stipend, so paying them will be unfair to the rest of the student body. Especially those that have to work one or several part-time jobs just to be able to afford tuition, housing, and food.

Some students are lucky enough to have to struggle with these issues, either because they are reasonably well off financially, or because their parents take over their college costs.

Unfortunately, this is not the fact for all students.

Athletes are already favored in what they receive from the school, because not only do they have scholarships and stipends, but they have access to private tutors and resources, as well as certain privileges other students do not have access to.

All of this is taken into consideration when the subject of paying the athletes is brought up. Many people feel that it is only fair that the athletes have compensation for what they do and bring to the school, but most people look at the overwhelming difference between athletes and other students and feel that they already receive enough in terms of payment.

  • Are all college athletes this privileged?

No, they are not. While many athletes within many different sports departments are in school with a scholarship, not all of them have a full scholarship. This means that they only have access to a certain amount of free schooling, and then they have to take care of the rest themselves.

Many athletes do not have a scholarship, and this makes it very difficult for them to balance everything. Not only do they have to be there for sports practices and events, but they have to work even harder to keep their grades acceptable, and they also have to work part-time jobs to be able to pay for their tuition and housing.

So not many athletes are lucky enough to receive the full benefits and privileges that come with the scholarship.

The debate about paying college athletes has been going on for years. Many people only see that the athletes are not compensated for the work they put in to remain on the sports team and to be a successful part of the team.

But when faced with the facts of what they receive compared to other students, the fact is that athletes receive so much more than the rest. And this is without being paid. 

Their scholarships and stipends effectively mean that they save thousands of dollars without having to go into debt. They have immediate employment opportunities that others do not, and they also have a work ethic that makes them valuable to future employees.

While the work ethic is something they work very hard to maintain, only to their benefit as any job finds such a work ethic highly desirable, the rest of the privileges afforded to them make it extremely unfair to other athletes and students. This is why there are so many discussions about the benefits of paying athletes at the college level.