Cons of Paying Students to Play in College

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Cons Of Paying Students to Play in College

Please note! This essay has been submitted by a student.

This paper aims to show how and why the concept of “pay to play” can be harmful to college athletics. This paper argues that paying players to play has more negative effects than positive ones. The paper also shows that paying student athletes is unrealistic when it comes down to the facts. The paper will present pros and cons for the concept of “pay to play” and then explains why it is crucial for this to not be allowed in the world of college sports. I will show many sources throughout the paper to help the statement being made. This essay will provide answers to different scenarios that occur with the illegal aspect of paying student athletes. The main idea is that paying student athletes is unreasonable.

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This issue that is being talked about lately in the sports world is if colleges and universities should or should not pay student athletes to play for their sports team. This has become known as, “pay to play”. The issue has been around for over a decade, but has become more widespread and well known in recent years because of incidents such as Reggie Bush and the losing of his 2005 Heisman trophy in 2010. He not only had lost his coveted Heisman title, but all the stats and records that he achieved while in college were erased as well. This was the punishment for him and the college after discovering that the University of Southern California (USC) was paying players and giving them gifts for playing on their team. It was a recruiting tactic by both the head coach and athletic director or the universities sports programs. It is a complete violation however of the NCAA’s rules. The NCAA is the organization in which all universities fall under if they are participating in any college sport. The NCAA regulates all rules and programs for the college sports. It is clearly stated in the rules that no student athletes should receive money or special gifts from schools for playing sports. If this happens the athlete immediately loses all eligibility to play at the collegiate level.

The idea of paying college athletes has been around for a while. Athletes have always had a desire to make money playing the sport they love and playing in college and seeing the success of the university because of them makes them crave that money a little more. Regardless of when it was first thought of, it is a big deal in the world of college sports today. Paying student athletes like most ideas has pros and cons attached to it. A lot of people believe that the pros will outweigh the cons, while many others disagree and believe otherwise.

The issue of paying student athletes not only affects the student athletes, but it also will affect the organizations that are responsible for paying the athletes. Most colleges have a lot of money, but considering the amount needed to pay all the athletes it is not enough. There are certain sports that bring in a large amount of money for schools. Sports such as basketball and especially football. Both sports are televised and bring in a large portion of money for universities, but what is not being factored in are the sports that do not get televised and are not high value sports. Sports such as lacrosse or water polo. These sports may even be losing money to support their programs.

A few years ago, there was a big issue with some universities offering high school athletes a $2,000 dollar signing bonus if the athletes would sign to their school. The letters of intent clearly would state that nothing was being offered to the athlete however. When the school year started, multiple schools told the athletes that they could not afford to pay them. Some athletes were upset about this and took it to the NCAA. It was a mistake for both the athletes and the school. The NCAA crashed down on the both the athletes and the universities. Telling them that the athletes who had received the money either had to give it back and receive a scholarship or lose their eligibility. Believe it or not some of the athletes took the money instead of the scholarship thinking it was a better deal for them. It really shows how smart those athletes were.

A writer for the New York Times named Joe Nocera wrote an article on the “pay to play” issue, this is what he said, “any other college athlete who manages to get his hands on an extra $2,000 by taking money from an overenthusiastic booster, say, or selling some of their team paraphernalia, as a few Ohio State players did will be violating the NCAA’s rules regarding amateurism and will probably face a multi-game suspension. Behold the logic of the NCAA at work” (Nocera, 2011) This definitely exploited the hypocrisy in college sports today.

When it comes to the issue of paying student athletes they are three main organizations involved, the student athletes, the universities, and the NCAA. The student athletes are key in this because they would be the ones that would benefiting from the situation if they were to go ahead and get paid to play their sport. The Universities are big in this because ultimately, they would be the ones that would be taking care of the paying of the student athletes. It would be determined by them on how much money they would be willing to pay the athletes themselves. They would also be responsible for figuring out which sports programs athletes would receive certain amounts of money. The Nation Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)is a key player in this as well because without them, there would not be any official competitive college sports in our world. Without the NCAA being there to officiate the rules, there would be no reason to pay athletes in the first place.

If a location would have to pinpointed for this issue, it would be shared by the colleges, athletes, and the NCAA. A majority would first lie within the NCAA because they are the eons that decide if paying athletes to play their sport should be allowed or not, they are the creator of rules for college sports. Second would probably lie with the universities and colleges. The schools fall under the NCAA because they do not make the rules concerning collegiate sports. And last the student athletes would come up. They are the main focus of this topic but ultimately, they have no say in the situation. They can complain all they want but their say is very small compared to the big picture at hand. The student athletes and the universities can only go by what the NCAA says.

Paying College Athletes: The Good and the Bad

Student athletes have a very strong belief that sports come first. But they are sadly mistaken. A student athlete is exactly what the title says, and student first and athlete second. They are not school employees who are to be paid for their work. There are many people that may argue with this due to the fact that student athletes generate a lot of income for the schools they play for. A few certain sports do generate profit, there are more than a few sports that do not. Because of this, the schools will lose money or if they are lucky, they might break even. The idea of paying or bribing student athletes is wrong and it is not reasonable for schools. It also has a huge effect on college sports and may ruin it all together.

When it comes to paying college athletes it brings up a big conflict with the primary focus of fame and money. This brings up a big interference with the education of the athlete, which ultimately is the reason why the student is there. Some argue that it is fair to pay the athletes who are putting forth all the effort and working hard for the school. These people feel that professional sports make a great deal of money and college bowl games for example bring in a similar or even higher profit. The athletes who play in these games do not make money from the work that they are putting in.

Another focus of this topic is directly aimed at the audience of the sports. People who love a certain university want the best of the best for their school so that they win more. People are willing to pay the athletes or give them gifts in hopes that they will play better or keep the athlete happy and go to their school. These people are commonly referred to as boosters.

I will talk about some of the pros that would come up if the NCAA agreed to allow universities and colleges to start paying their athletes. Afterwards I will begin talking about the many cons of paying student athletes and why it should not be done for the good of college athletics.


If colleges began to pay their athletes, then the athletes would not have to worry about trying to go in to the professional world of sports to get paid. As a result of this, student athletes would stay in school longer and receive a better education and ultimately get their degree instead of going straight into professional sports to get paid.

There is also a large portion of student athletes that come from families who are not “well-off”. These athlete’s families cannot help their child much due to their low income. The athlete cannot rely on their family to help take care of them while they are in school. It makes it hard on the athlete to get food and daily necessities. As well because of the demand and time spent on college sports the athletes do not have time between school and sports to get a job to earn an income. Paying student athletes would help the athlete to have some spending money without having to worry about getting a job.

If players were allowed to be paid, it would stop the abuse of boosters and agents attacking student athletes to give them gifts and money. It would cause less media attention from this issue as well.

If the NCAA allowed universities and colleges to pay their athletes it would reduce the cheating and number of games and teams that would get suspended due to the rules. It goes back to the idea that the athletes would not have to worry about getting money in illegal ways.

Money that would be paid to the athletes could also be used for things such as medical bills in case of injury. Being a student athlete I know that we have a high risk of injury with full contact sports will conditioning our bodies to the peak of breaking down. We work hard every day and put our bodies through things that most cannot. We have a high risk of injury and it is not cheap to treat sports related injuries. If athletes were paid they would be able to cover their medical bills which could make a difference in their career or season for the university.

Some players feel like they deserve to get paid just for the risk of injury that they face every time they go out and play. They feel that the money is a good way to compensate for the injury that they may face while competing.

A lot of people say that college are basically unpaid workers for the universities and colleges. The amount of hours they put in to practicing and competing can be compared to that of a full time worker. It is a full time job. Because of this many believe that it is fair for the athlete to be paid.

If athletes were to be paid, more people would have desire to play sports at the collegiate level. The money would act as an incentive. The more athletes that would play, the higher the intensity of the games being played throughout the season. This would make the teams better, which would increase revenue for the schools because more people would want to watch the games.


Due to the revenue that the schools would be making, they would be redirecting that money towards paying the athletes rather than helping the sports that make little to no profit, those sports would eventually become cut from college play. Simply put, the sports that make money would stay and the sports that struggle would be lost. This would not be fair to those athletes who have dedicated their lives to their sports that are not popular. Because of this it would eventually lead to collegiate sports just having men’s basketball and football to be the only sports in college because of the revenue they bring in.

It is very common that the majority of college athletic organizations throughout America in universities and colleges break even or lose money every year. It is not easy for the sports such as men’s basketball and football to make up for the money lost by the rest of the school’s sports. This is especially hard if neither of the basketball or football teams have a good program to begin with or they have a rough season that year. It would be hard to even find money from where to pay the athletes because of this.

If schools were to begin paying their student athletes it would cause the schools to have less money for the athletic programs to spread out their athletic resources. Universities would have a hard time with being able to maintain equipment and fields. They would have a hard time being able to buy new equipment for their athletes.

Another issue that would arise is how the pay would be determined. Would football players make more than soccer players? Would men’s basketball receive more than women’s basketball? How would this be regulated? It would ultimately cause contention between sports, it would bring down the school spirit or moral for the athletes. Another question that would be brought up is, would there be a limit to how much that student athlete can get paid? Would seniors make more than freshman? Would the NCAA regulate it or the school? Would each school have its own wages? Would the amount paid be determined on how talented the athlete is? These all would cause major contention between sports. There are way too many variables regarding the amount that the athletes should make while playing their sport.

It is also a very strong argument that by paying student athletes it would strongly harm the academic focus of the athlete. Many students would feel the need to focus on school is outweighed by the thought of making more money. The importance level is challenged. Colleges would then be turned into a place to go get money instead of a place to earn an education.

A part of the collegiate sports world that is widely appreciated by sports fans is that college athletes have a strong desire to play. When you watch professionals not everyone gives it their all. They have made it already and received their pay checks. When it comes to college athletes they are trying to get to that point so they work their tails off to get there. It makes the sport purer, by paying the athletes it would corrupt the integrity of the game.

By far the largest factor that should be included here is that not all universities are the same. Some schools have more money to spend on their athletics. Athletes would be more enticed to go to the schools that can pay them more. It would ruin the competition of the sports because the bigger universities can get the best player because of the money they can fork over to the athlete. It would then lead to “super teams” being created and only a select few schools would win the championships every year. The wealthy schools would always win, and the poor schools would most likely always lose.

My Argument

Concerning the pros and cons being brought up, it is strongly more favorable towards the cons. If schools began to start paying students athletes we all would slowly start to see sports deteriorate away, as well we would see the NCAA and all the sports affiliated with it become corrupted by money. Collegiate sports would have no integrity left and would no longer be enjoyable to watch.


In the end of all this, paying student athletes should be something that universities and colleges should not have to be concerned with. Scholarships are more than what they are thought to be. With the average scholarship to a Division 1 school pricing at more than $40,000 a year, the student athletes are definitely making a good living. These student athletes can walk away from school with a degree with zero student debt. That is something not many are able to say.

Being a student athlete I know how hard it is at times with school and practice put together. You do not have time for a job to earn money. I also come from a household that is not well off. I had to work for everything I got, nothing was ever given to me. I know what the lifestyle is like and I know that I personally would not mind receiving money for compensation of my time spent on the court, but I also know that I am doing fine with what the school has given me. It is unnecessary to pay student athletes.

All in all, college athletes do not need to be getting paid for playing their sport. If they want to be paid so badly, it is a good incentive for them to work harder so they can get to the pros and make the big bucks. College is a time meant to be used to learn and grow, not a time to earn. Getting paid to play should be the last thing on their minds.

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