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Thursday, August 07, 2008
The "Pay-for-Play" Debate

Matt Winkeljohn of the Atlanta-Journal Constitution wrote an excellent article 10 days ago that debates the issue of paying amateur athletes, including the use of players' likenesses in video games (Advocates, NCAA Take Sides on Paying Student-Athletes, 7/27/09).

For further in-depth analysis and discussion on this topic, see C. Peter Goplerud III, Pay for Play for College Athletes: Now, More Than Ever, 38 S. Tex. L. Rev. 1081 (1997); and C. Peter Goplerud III, Stipends for Collegiate Athletes: A Philosophical Spin on a Controversial Proposal, 5 Kan. J.L. & Pub. Pol'y 125, 127 (1996).


I oppose a pay system for a number of reasons.

#1. Fans are far less interested in the player than the team the player plays for.

If the top three players at UCLA transferred to USC chances are pretty slim that many of the people buying their UCLA jersey buy their USC jersey. Or if the top three at Miami transferred to Florida International it doesn't create a notable shift.

The player's ability isn't what spurs the purchase of a jersey or hat with their number. It is the passion for the team that generates it. The number selection is just about who on that team is doing good right now.

#2. It cannot be done under Title IX at least easily without divorcing the athletic department from the school. Presidential control of athletics being weak at the richest schools is a major element in the excesses of the system. Giving the departments independence makes a bad situation horrific.

#3. Only a tiny fraction of the 85 getting scholarship aid at a school would come out ahead. Offensive linemen and back-up receivers are going to get zip out of the deal.

All that said. I find the NCAA's stance on fantasy sports offensive if they do carry forward and license names. If that happens then that money better become supplemental to the additional aid funds that currently exist.

Blogger Mark -- 8/07/2008 6:58 PM  

1. Fans actually DO care--you must not live a college town;

2. Athletic departments DO consider themselves separate from the university--you must not work at a university with a major college football program;

3. Don't worry--the offensive linemen will be offended and will sue--they'll get their share.

4. The NCAA is a runaway train that will only be reigned in with governmental intervention or a protest from such an influential college player that something "tragic" ensues.

Anonymous Anonymous -- 8/07/2008 7:50 PM  


You aren't realistically suggesting that people in Starkville, Mississippi who buy the jersey with the number of the starting quarterback would buy that kid's jersey if he transfers to Ole Miss? Maybe the folks in Mississippi are more progressive but in the college towns I've lived in people root for the school and team, the player is merely an extension. Got to any message board and see how the love changes upon transfer, arrest, or flunking out.

2. The handful of schools that make enough money to not need university funds (and therefore need little if any support from the president/chancellor) lead in the major categories of player arrests and NCAA violations.

3. If it is a free market system, the lineman will never get what the stars make.

4. The NCAA is a mess. The presidents seem to choose battles like nicknames, mascots, and state flags because they have lost control at the wealthy schools and know they will lose a showdown on the important stuff.

Congress and the tax code are the remaining hope so there is no hope. Unless Congress elects to reduce eligibility for funds on a sliding scale based on athletic expenditures or phase out deductiblity of donations and sponsorships based on athletic expenditures, the spiral will continue.

Blogger Mark -- 8/10/2008 8:53 AM  


1. In college towns, fans buy the jersey number of the person they root for. If that person leaves, they buy another jersey number for the next person they root for. So, if you want to say, "ah-ah! They DO buy the college jersey" then yes. However, I'm saying they only buy the jersey number because they really have no other choice in that college town. Besides, manufacturers usually only sell what sells--the jersey number of the local stars.

2. Handful? Funny. Have you ever taken accounting? All I am saying is that in terms of decision-making, attitude, responsibility, and parking spots, the athletic departments at most schools (powerhouse schools) operate independently from the universities.

3. It is not a free market system. It's "litigation nation."

4. You are right--no hope, unless some hero takes a stand....

Anonymous Anonymous -- 8/10/2008 1:04 PM  

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