College football players deserve pay

In Devil's Advocate, Opinion

One of the many arguments heard against collegiate athletes being paid is that compensation is currently fair enough as those athletes have their tuition paid for in addition to housing, food or books.

Sports at the college level are quickly being propelled to the level of professional sports.

The old deal between the NCAA and Bowl Championship Series for football was worth $500 million, according to an article from

Simply put, it is a business and form of entertainment worth millions, and sometimes billions, of dollars for these “student athletes” to be broadcasted on national television. That alone transforms athletes into celebrities.

College jerseys with a player’s number on the back are found in stores on and off colleges campuses. While names are not displayed on the back, it is not difficult to identify these players paraded through the media.

The fact remains that those players that are associated with the jersey do not receive any compensation as universities participate in a cash grab off the likeness of individual athletes.

There are coaches who are currently against college athletes forming a union, and truth be told, there isn’t a more hypocritical situation than coaches being against player compensation.

Northwestern University is at the heart of the union debate as its players are the ones trying to achieve the goal of forming a union.

Pat Fitzgerald, the head coach for the Wildcats football team, has recently voiced his opposition to the union and urged his players to vote against the idea when it’s taken to a vote in late April.

“I believe it’s in their best interests to vote no. With the research that I’ve done, I’m going to stick to the facts and I’m going to do everything in my power to educate our guys,” Fitzgerald said. “Our university is going to do that. We’ll give them all the resources they need to get the facts.”

So while coaches are against unions and compensation for its athletes, it should be noted that these coaches are the same ones getting paid handsomely for their own services.

In 2011, Fitzgerald was paid more than $2.2 million, a $1 million increase from the previous year, and was given a 10-year contract extension that runs through 2020.

If that wasn’t enough, his compensation package included a $2.5 million loan from the school. It was the first time since 2005 that Northwestern’s tax return showed the coach to be the highest paid employee at the university, according to USA Today Sports.

At the end of the day, athletes realistically are not going to be offered that type of money. But why should they not receive a piece of the pie after the long hours they put in the training room and on the field, all while fulfilling their responsibilities as a student?

College athletes deserve balance and as great as the perks of free education are, they could be and should be given a little bit more.

The athletes are the ones selling out stadiums, selling merchandise and generating millions of dollars for their respective universities. To say athletes do not deserve a little more compensation is unfair.

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