With all the attention Maurice Clarett's arrest has brought on the problems associated with college athletics, I thought it would be interesting to get some different opinions regarding the "student athlete", his role at his institution, and the controversial issue of whether student-athletes should be paid, and how.
First let's lay down a couple of givens: First, the men's football programs, and ACC men's basketball, underwrite all other sports teams at that university or college. Without men's football, there would be no sports other than at the club level. Second, college scholarship athletes are forbidden by the NCAA from working other than in institutional work-study programs which are limited. Third, elite athletes are surrounded constantly by unscrupulous alumni, agents, and bettors telling them how much they are worth and offering them obscene amounts of cash. Fourth, let's not delude ourselves into thinking that the elite athletes are in school for any reason other than to go pro at some point...they aren't and everybody knows that. The athlete, his parents, the coaches, the administration, and the fans know it. He's there to win games, and while he's not winning games he can kill time by attending class until the next game. Finally, any solution would have to be workable at all NCAA governed institutions big and small.
The big question: Given that these student-athletes bring in millions of dollars to the university, is it appropriate to offer them some sort of financial incentive since they are in a very real sense a university employee? Popular reader to this blog "Reid", chimed in earlier with this suggestion which prompted this post...
The NCAA allows each school to state a value for a scholarship (ex: $40,000 for a four year ride at Alabama). Then each scholaship athlete is given an account at the university credit union. These students write checks for tuition, housing, etc. They can purchase new or used books at the U book store, this gives each student some spending freedom. Each week or twice a month, the athletic department issues a paycheck to these athletes at some $/hour rate. Hours "worked" are based off of practice time, game time, off season workouts, and most importantly study hall time. This allows an institution the flexibiliy to spend funds " in season" and decrease expenses in the off season. It also allows the student to learn budgeting, how to balance a checkbook, financial decision making, etc. The football program still funds all minor sports, but this system eliminates all the neglecting of minor sports. Partial scholarship people are reduced by the percentage of scholarship. Simple, easy to manage by the member institutions, and good for the athletes.
Tell me why this will not work?
If any of you have ideas about solving the problems with big-time college athletics, I'd love to hear them and we can discuss.