THE SANTA CLARA
October 23, 2014
Nationwide conversation about the exploitation of student athletes has been increasing.
Todd Gurley, the star running back for the University of Georgia, was recently suspended for allegedly selling autographs for compensation, which isn’t allowed by NCAA rules. Meanwhile, a fellow Georgia student is making money off of selling “#FreeGurl3y” shirts.
He can make money off of Gurley’s name, but Gurley can’t.
This past August, a California District Court ruled that universities and colleges must offer their players trust funds that can be accessed upon the players’ graduations. These trust funds are created with revenue from the use of the player’s name and likeness in video games and on television, both of which players, like Gurley, have previously been uncompensated for.
While this ruling only applies to Division 1 men’s basketball players, it is one of the first of its kind. It has opened more doors for discussion regarding economic compensation for student athletes.
According to Forbes, college basketball and football generate over $6 billion in annual revenue. That is a lot of money that student athletes — who are the main contributors in generating it — will never see. Most won’t ever reap the fruits of their labor, at least in regards to the profit that their school and entities like ESPN will make off of them.
The economic compensation of college athletes is something I have always had mixed feelings toward. The line is a particularly blurry one.
Technically, universities do not own their student athletes. Yes, students sign a contract. But where in that contract have they signed away all of their rights? The capacity for exploitation through the NCAA’s policy of maintaining “amateurism” is quite concerning. Although the ideal of keeping professional and college sports separate is an admirable one, the reality of college sports has changed since its implementation.
In short, aside from scholarships and preferential treatment on campus, students whose likenesses are being used in television or similar programs should receive part of those profits post-graduation. If an athlete wants to sell merchandise on eBay, why can’t they?
However, I think it is important to stress that universities, or any other entity that profits from them, should not pay students while they are attending school. There should also be a rule that a student athlete must graduate and receive a diploma in order to access any kind of trust fund.
The purpose of college is to receive an education, not to make money by playing sports.
Contact Alli Kleppe at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 554-4852.