College athletes deserve their fair share of pay

By: Karlyle Stephens

If you are excited about the new college football playoff, then thumbs up for you. I won’t be pleased until the day we see a payoff in college sports.

The top four teams will be selected to compete in bowl games that will generate millions in revenue without compensating the players. Some argue these young performers aren’t left completely empty-handed.

First, they get to be “student-athletes,” a term that was consciously crafted in order to avoid workers’ compensation lawsuits. In exchange for their efforts, student-athletes are instead rewarded with scholarships.

With the investment emphasized on the athlete and not the student, coaches can choose not to renew an athlete’s scholarship for any reason including poor performance.

This employer-like model often leaves players without a “Plan A” or “Plan B.”

Once in a NCAA press conference with its President Mark Emmert, then Baylor QB Robert Griffin III – a graduate in 3 years with a 3.6GPA – explained his plans to an audience in a cute little way that made the crowd chuckle, and made Emmert proud.

He said Plan A would be to go to law school, while Plan B would be to go to the NFL. Ready for his punchline?

“So you know, if Plan B works out, it’s fine; I’ve always got Plan A,” Griffin said.

Why would the NCAA need to create this impression?

Option one, perpetuate the illusion of the “student-athlete” model.

The other possibility is that Griffin is black.

Griffin doesn’t represent the typical experience of a black athlete, so Emmert and the NCAA had to use him to defend poor graduation rates for blacks participating in the two sports responsible for more than 80 percent of the NCAA’s revenue.

The education supplied by the universities in exchange for athletes’ labor is also poor.

“When I got there, they already had what we were going to major in,” said former linebacker for the University of North Carolina Mike McAdoo, who was part of an 18 year “paper class” scandal at UNC.

Athletes would receive credit for a class in which they simply had to turn in a paper at the end of the semester regardless if it was good, bad, or copied.

The department chosen for this illegal operation was African Studies. Coincidence?

I couldn’t care less what teams gets the four seeds in the first ever college football playoff. There are clearly other important issues to be resolved.


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These are archived stories from Mesa Legend editions before Fall 2018. See article for corresponding author.

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