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Pay for college athletes: Yes or no?

Posted Thursday, January 21, 2010, at 3:25 PM

College should be banned from NCAA playoffs if they don't consistently graduate a set percentage of athletes each year, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Wednesday.

Good point. After all, the main purpose of colleges is to educate -- and graduate -- their students. But the main purpose of their athletic departments is, arguably, to entertain and attract donors to keep those colleges financially afloat.

Consider this: College athletes arguably serve as unpaid public relations representatives and what I'll call "money and prestige attractors" of their schools.

Are they being used, especially those unlikely to graduate? It can be argued that athetes are using the schools as well, especially if they have the ability to turn pro early. But who gets the most immediate benefit? I'd say usually it's the colleges.

Many of those athletes, and let's be honest about it, aren't there for the academics. Some don't really academically qualify and are admitted only because of special admissions programs. Their goals: Go pro, as fast as possible, and make more money than they would with a degree and a regular job.

Is it fair for those "student"-athletes to be more or less used to attact donors without being directly compensated? In other words, pay for play?

I tend to lean toward pay -- not hundreds of thousands of dollars, but enough that they're fairly compensated, and I'm not sure what that figure should be.

Showing comments in chronological order
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Can't say that I agree with paying student athletes. They are being given the opportunity to get an education, even if they don't take advantage of it, they are getting valuable experience in their sport and provided a "springboard" for the Pro.

-- Posted by stevemills on Thu, Jan 21, 2010, at 3:47 PM

the problem is, when we think of college sports, the programs we are thinking about constitute a tiny minority of collegiate athletic programs. the vast majority of college athletes are real students and harbor no delusions about going pro some day. for many of them, the scholarships are a window of opportunity for the athletes to get an education and make something of themselves. while i concur that the athletes in the big-time programs (a small portion of football & men's basketball programs) are being used, i think it is important to tailor any solution to the actual problem. we dont want another well-intentioned debacle like title 9, which took away many more opportunities than it provided.

-- Posted by lazarus on Thu, Jan 21, 2010, at 4:08 PM

Why not let the university "invest" in the athelete. Pay now based on need and repaid through those big signing bonuses - maybe at a 100 to 1 ratio.

-- Posted by devan on Thu, Jan 21, 2010, at 6:18 PM

Do we have too much recruiting of characters rather than character now?

-- Posted by bomelson on Fri, Jan 22, 2010, at 3:00 PM

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David Melson is a copy editor and staff writer for the Times-Gazette.