I am of the mindset that college athletes should not be paid.
While it seems logical that these young men and women should be compensated for their performance on the field, handing over cash isn’t the best way.
In my view, it’s the beginning of a slippery slope.
How do you determine how much a player like Michigan’s Trey Burke, who was the consensus player of the year, should get paid versus Kiki Golden, the leading scorer on the Wolverines’ women’s water polo team? As it stands, both student athletes are being compensated with the same education at the same university, but only one of them became a household name over the past month.
After getting over that fact, there’s compensation from merchandise and memorabilia, potential signing bonuses for committing to a university, to performance milestones over the course of a career. I think it’s smart to nip those in the bud before any payments get started.
I see both sides of the argument. I know how prevalent the phrase “sham of amateurism” is when it comes to major college athletics, and I definitely see and understand that side. I even agree with it to an extent. But I still think the NCAA is better off not heading down that path toward the point of no return.
The players sign a contract when they commit to a school, which spells out what the players will be receiving. In most cases, it’s a free education and the experience of a lifetime. Other than that, they’re just signing on to be members of the student body.
It’s this reason that I understand and support the NCAA not allowing the Louisville men’s basketball team to travel — on the university’s or Rick Pitino’s dime — to New Orleans to watch the women’s team compete for the national championship
There are going to be other Louisville students in attendance to watch the Lady Cardinals take on UConn tonight, students who found a way to pay for themselves to to head down to New Orleans and support their classmates in a gigantic game.
Given that the Louisville men’s and women’s basketball teams are different programs, Luke Hancock and Shoni Schimmel are just classmates. One was the Most Outstanding Player of the men’s tournament and one is the women’s team’s leading scorer, but they’re on different teams that happen to play the same sport.
If I were a Louisville student that wasn’t on the basketball team, I’d be a little upset if the university was going to pay for the men’s team to travel to New Orleans when I paid my own way to get there. For tonight’s games, both would just be fans cheering on fellow classmates. It would be a perk and a privilege that is not provided to the rest of the student body.
There’s the other side of the coin, where people could argue that Louisville could take the cost of the flights from Atlanta to New Orleans out of the money that the men’s team has earned the university over the past month. The thought process is logical, but it’s dangerous.
Like I’ve said, it would be the start of a slippery slope. Once an exception is made for one team and one school, a precedent would be set that it’s clear the NCAA doesn’t want to make.
I wish there were some way for the men’s team to make it from Atlanta to New Orleans (a 470-mile drive that should take around 7 hours), but I get why the NCAA is putting its foot down.
The NCAA faces a great deal of scrutiny and has to deal with a lot of blowback. So even though common sense would dictate otherwise, it makes sense to me why they’ve made this ruling.
And as former Sports Illustrated scribe John Walters said on Twitter, “As I understand it, no one is preventing Louisville men from traveling to New Orleans today. They’re just not paying for then to do it.”
When it’s broken down that simply, it makes a lot more sense.
Say what you will about the NCAA, but at least they are sticking with their convictions on this one.