Evanson: How much more is too much when it comes to paying college athletes
Sedona Prince wants more.
The University of Oregon Ducks basketball player tweeted this past Saturday that "student athletes deserve more," and in response, she was both lauded and opposed by people with differing views on fair compensation for playing a collegiate sport.
While some cite the billions of dollars generated by the NCAA and the institutions participating as fodder for increased compensation, others point to the free education and amplified overall experience as compensation enough.
Yet, like in most cases of opposing views, the truth lies not on one side or the other, but rather somewhere in between two sides that seem unwilling to budge.
Prince made news this past March when she ignited a firestorm — and rightfully so — over the stark contrast between what the men and women were being provided as part of their NCAA basketball tournament experience. Food, weight facilities, care packages: all were adequate on the men's side, while at the women's location, they were, well — not so much.
As a result, changes were made. The NCAA righted their wrongdoing, and Prince, she was rewarded with an appearance on "Good Morning America" to speak to and promote equal rights for female athletes and women in general.
All good, right?
Not remotely — for like any good activist, a win is only as good as the power it provides you to further triumph in a battle down the road, and that road has led Prince here.
This is not surprising. After all, collegiate athletics are on the precipice of game-changing legislation kicking in, allowing college athletes to make money off their name, image and likeness. Many feel that will be the first of many dominoes set to fall in favor of monetary compensation for student athletes from the gridiron to the golf course.
But at what expense?
While it's easy to say, "give them more money," it's far less easy to do it. After all, who gets what, and how much?
Should it all go into a pot that's split equally amongst the athletes regardless of sport, position, minutes played and/or notoriety? Or is it every man or woman for themselves?
And who if anyone is going to regulate it? Because if you think the "big boys" are running things already, wait until the programs already flush with cash are able to put the money on the table instead of under it. You'll be creating an even wider chasm between the "haves" and "have-nots," who are already at a competitive disadvantage.
I find myself firmly in the middle of this argument, with a slight lean towards the status quo. That's not to say I don't believe we can't or shouldn't give the athletes more, but more so that we can give them a little without promising them the world.
The landscape has changed over the last two decades, with billions more dollars being infused into the business of college sports. So, let's increase compensation to reflect that influx of cash, but do so in an intelligent and responsible way.
College athletes already get a lot.
Aside from the six-figure debt they won't incur for their college education, they get preferred living accommodations, unparalleled tutoring and educational assistance, contrary to popular belief — plenty of food, clothing most 20-something-year-olds would die for, and expert-level coaching that one would pay a pretty penny for in the private sector, and if their aim is to play at the professional level, coaching they need to get there.
So, this notion that they're getting little in return for the services they provide on the playing field has less value than the scholarship many say is valueless.
I applaud Sedona Prince for speaking out on behalf of women's sports. Additionally, I applaud her right to ask for more when it comes to she and her student athlete brethren. After all, that's one of the primary ideas from which the foundation of this country was built.
But I also believe in the value of an education and the increasingly rising value of getting one debt-free. So, call me old-fashioned, but I think athletes have it pretty good.
More is one thing, much more is another — and ultimately, no one says they have to play.
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