Each year the debate of whether college athletes should be paid gains more steam. Furthermore, every year a student-athlete such as Cam Newton or Terrelle Pryor and his four teammates at Ohio State come under heavy scrutiny for receiving improper benefits.
As a member of the "Fab Five" at the University of Michigan, I have lived by the rules of the NCAA and also faced its consequences when those rules have been broken. With that said, I am strong advocate of college players being paid to play sports. Each student-athlete should be paid a stipend of $2,000 per semester. Universities, coaches, apparel companies and everyone in between financially benefits from the success of these student-athletes except for the player themselves. This is a small investment for universities that see millions of dollars in revenue each semester and treat these student athletes as indentured servants. The elephant in the room is the current NCAA contracts for basketball and football which exceed $20 billion annually!
Before the NCAA advocates scream college student-athletes are paid via education, keep in mind that while academics are noted and needed, athletes are recruited for their athletic skill. The universities view athletics as a business and an opportunity to grow their brand and make money. This is why so much emphasis is put on making it to the NCAA Tournament and playing in a Bowl games. It's no secret that athletics rake in a huge amount of revenue for Universities across the country. While fans attend games and tune in to root for their favorite school, there also has to be names on the back of the Jerseys such as Walker (Kemba) and Fredette (Jimmer).
Despite the fact very few student athletes ever have the opportunity to turn professional, the overwhelming time commitment of practice, film sessions and team obligations make it impossible to maintain a part-time job, which is not permitted. It's difficult to juggle two full time jobs -- going to school and playing athletics. A $2,000 per semester stipend would go a long way for giving the student athletes extra money to help pay bills and living expenses. Many student-athletes may not have family members they can rely on to give them money when funds run low. This makes it harder for some student-athletes to resist the temptations from boosters, agents and other individuals seeking to prey on them.
For those who believe the NCAA stresses education over athletics, an athlete's scholarship can be taken away at any time regardless of your GPA. A player can have a 4.0 GPA and the coach can decide that player no longer fits the system. The school has the authority to rescind that player's scholarship no matter how well they perform in the classroom.
This is a debate that will likely never end as it's impossible to have a decisive fair balance between a student and an athlete. With that said, I feel my solution of providing a $2,000 per semester stipend to student-athletes will help ease their concerns of daily living expenses while still maintaining the integrity of receiving a college scholarship.