Big Ten to pay student athletes?

The Big Ten is in their yearly meetings at the moment, and one thing which came up was a discussion of paying student-athletes.  Long has the debate of paying student-athletes persisted.  Purists argue that student athletes are already paid in the education they receive, and that they should be happy with their current tuition waiver, fees, as well as the honor of playing for a university.  Others argue that student-athletes should get paid because of the amount of revenue which they generate for their organizations.  Research in sports economics has shown that the rents generated by premium college athletes in college football, and men’s and women’s basketball are often many times higher than the price of tuition, room and board, and other fees covered as part of the scholarship.

The Big Ten’s new proposal considers the increasing gap between cost of living (from expenses such as transportation and clothing) and the value of scholarships.  They say that this gap is valued somewhere between $2,000 and $5,000.  This proposal is actually favored by current NCAA President Mark Emmert as well as the late former NCAA President Myles Brand.  There is speculation that this payment would be uniform across all student athletes, and would be paid to all athletes in the Big Ten and that the money would come from television revenues.

Now my thought is that this could be a bit of an advantage for the Big Ten, as the conference is quite strong already, but the promise of a payment along with scholarship may make they teams in the conference more attractive to recruits, especially those in need of money.  The solution of course would be for other conferences to follow suit, however this is something that some may not be able to do because of high financial strain on many conferences and athletic departments.  I’ll be curious to see how this progresses, and the potential implications it would mean.  I imagine the other major conferences would follow the Big Ten’s examples.  Maybe this is the first step towards pay-for-play in college athletics.

Of course, I had to include the new Big Ten logo in this post, which I am not a fan of.

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4 Responses to Big Ten to pay student athletes?

  1. Dan says:

    Nick, it’s already pay for play in college athletics. They get paid a nice scholarship and the coach can take it away if they don’t perform well. The extra amount is simply competition for players’ services taking place since the White v. NCAA case allowed schools to pay some of the “gap” money to athletes. The settlement in that case runs out at some point so this might make it more permanent.

    It’s competition in a valuable market. What’s not to like?

    • KG says:

      Dan, just to correct you, but coaches cannot take away scholarship money just based on athletic performance. The only time they can take away that money is if the athletes academically becomes ineligible.

      • Dan says:

        KG, that’s not true in general at D1 NCAA schools. I don’t know if the Big 10 has its own rules on that, but a coach can choose to not renew an athlete’s scholarship prior to the next year.

        You are correct in that they can’t take it away during the year, but they can choose not to renew it. Thus, it is performance-based on a year to year basis.

  2. nickwatanabe says:

    That is true. I guess my point is if this will help take away that guise of NCAA being “amateur” sport, and help to support the case to pay student-athletes more

    I’m all for giving the student-athletes more compensation, and I get the question every year in class (usually from a student-athlete) “why don’t student athletes get paid a salary on top of their scholarship?”

    Maybe they can try and expand this “gap” money more and more in the future.

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