As a former student-athlete I definitely think the NCAA needs to loosen up on some of its restrictions placed on coaches and players. For instance, having a meal with your coach during the middle of the season and your coach paying for the meal should not be a violation. On the other hand I have taught so many non-student athletes and watched them struggle to buy books, fight the financial aid office, stretch out their thin meal plan, and overall fight just to keep their schedule from being dropped. Moreover, I have watched many (although not all) student-athletes on full 4-5 year scholarships including books, summer school tuition and access to every resource on campus, do the bare minimum in class, major in things they have no intention of utilizing, hardly ever crack open their free textbooks, and still after 4-5 years come up short on earning enough credits to graduate.
Therefore, it is hard to justify paying student-athletes. Let’s be real. Student athletes are not struggling. Student athletes are privileged and for most of us who were fortunate to get full rides to college we had access to an education that our parents and friends would have loved to have had. The fact that all of us, myself included, didn’t take full advantage of our opportunities is a major issue that few athletes are tweeting about these days. And why so many student-athletes struggle on the academic side of college is a much greater issue than whether a student-athlete needs to be paid. Ultimately, if you pay student athletes but don’t fix the academic issues, then you essentially are supporting paying student-athletes to UNDER-perform academically which has much greater consequences not only for the student-athlete but for their families and their communities.
I have talked to countless student athletes and although many regret things they did or did not do regarding their sport, almost ALL of them regret not taking advantage of the resources and education provided to them for free. Former and current athletes, looking back over how and what you spent your money on when you were in college, do you really think more money would have made you more studious or more eager to take advantage of the academic side of college? Let’s think before jumping on the bandwagon of athletes (mainly professional) that are now speaking out about getting paid. The reality is we did get paid through our education and most of us didn’t bother to CASH in.