Pay for Play: Why paying college athletes will and never should happen

September 23, 2011
by Justin

The mood will be somber, as the presidents of hundreds of college programs will announce that football players couldn’t come to an agreement with their schools. A numbness will sweep the sports world as they announce that athletes will be locked out, losing all six figure stipends and their scholarships. The Horse Shoe, the Rose Bowl, The Big House and the Los Angeles Coliseum would be dead silent. Major universities would see a drop in enrollment and sponsorships along with big money charitable donations that would cease to exist. That’s the scenario that I figure would happen, if the college programs of America ever started paying their athletes.

Now don’t get me wrong, I like money like the next guy; there were some Top Ramen nights that I would have gladly traded for some surf and turf evenings. There were games that I got chopped blocked and double teamed so much that the next day I had to crawl to the bathroom. That pain would have been eased if I knew that after my Tuesday practice, my defensive coordinator would hand me my weekly check. The thing is, I wasn’t a big school star, or even a consistent starter on the college level. If something like pay for play ever really happened, I would have not made much money at all.

In actuality, this isn’t about the big school systems making billions and only dispersing thousands in scholarship money. This isn’t about the athletes whose families live well below the poverty line and wouldn’t mind the extra income. This is about keeping some sort of purity in college athletics. Granted, there is a lot of hypocrisy in a coach who makes seven figures, telling his team not to take handouts. That same coach will preach to his players to never succumb to the pressure of agents or boosters who ironically pay a portion of their own salary. My point is that when money becomes top priority, the game suffers.

Imagine a long, drawn out collective bargaining phase. Eventually smaller schools and their athletes would turn against the top programs to gain more of a profit share. The NCAA would become obsolete in the midst of school presidents, state ran universities and college based, athletic unions. It would destroy the passion that college athletes have and most pros lack. I don’t agree with many of the institutionalized methods by any means, I just have a problem with the idea of NCAA sports fully transforming into a farm system a la Major League Baseball. The worst part would be that the school’s vision would all be tied to money; that’s a sports world that I hope to never see.


Yorick Hempstead is an ex-college athlete who is a sports blogger for He is always talking sports on twitter @HempsteadHuddle. 

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