Paying College Athletes

July 11, 2014 • Volume 24, Issue 25
Are players school employees?
By Reed Karaim


Connecticut's Lasan Kromah and Kentucky's Alex Poythress battle for a rebound during the NCAA championship in Arlington (Getty Images/Jamie Squire)
Connecticut's Lasan Kromah and Kentucky's Alex Poythress battle for a rebound during the NCAA championship in Arlington, Texas, on April 7. Advocates for players say that while the NCAA and top Division 1 schools and coaches prosper from football and basketball programs, athletes receive scholarships that don't even cover all their school expenses. (Getty Images/Jamie Squire)

The multibillion-dollar industry that college sports has become has richly rewarded the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), university athletic programs and top football and basketball coaches. Athletes, however, continue to play under a decades-old system in which scholarships pay for tuition and room and board but fall short of covering the full cost of attending school. In return, players are expected to maintain a rigorous training and playing schedule while keeping up their studies. A recent ruling that Northwestern University football players are school employees and thus have the right to unionize, along with class-action lawsuits demanding more compensation and better treatment for college athletes, has amplified debate over whether they should be paid. Supporters of the system say the education and training athletes receive are adequate compensation; critics say college athletes are being exploited. Observers also differ over whether colleges could afford salaries for players, and whether schools should pay more attention to athletes’ academic experience.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
College Sports
Apr. 24, 2020  Compensating College Athletes
Jun. 03, 2016  College Athletics
Jul. 11, 2014  Paying College Athletes
Nov. 18, 2011  College Football
Mar. 19, 2004  Reforming Big-Time College Sports
Mar. 23, 2001  Sportsmanship
Aug. 26, 1994  College Sports
Aug. 15, 1986  College Sports Under Fire
Apr. 15, 1983  Changing Environment in College Sports
Sep. 05, 1975  Future of Varsity Sports
Sep. 10, 1952  Commercialism in College Athletics
Antitrust and Monopolies
Popular Culture
Undergraduate and Graduate Education