Why Cam Newton Proves College Players Should Be Paid

NCAA Corruption, Cam Newton, and Student Athletes

If there is one lesson to be taken from the Heisman trophy won by Cam Newton, it is that amateurism, the one component that separates the NFL and NCAA, doesn’t mean much. Now, don’t blame Cam Newton or his dad, because the NCAA system exists to promote “amateurism,” which is basically code for unpaid indentured servitude.

The NCAA has developed the best possible economic scenario: national exposure of its product, insane revenues, and virtually zero expenditure on payroll. Since its inception, the NCAA has exploited its workhorses with an egregious lack of concern for its participants. In one particularly damning example, the NCAA went so far as to develop a new designation for athletes in order to avoid Workers Compensation claims.

After losing The University of Denver v. Nemeth in 1953, in which the court determined that the University of Denver would have to provide athletes with Workers Compensation provisions, the NCAA created the “student-athlete” designation. This feat of linguistics ensured that athletes would not be technically under the employ of various member universities and consequently not covered by Workers Compensation.

Athletes are there under scholarship, making them only entitled to the standard benefits available to college students – access to the university clinic and on-campus amenities. Because they’re just normal students that “full ride” scholarship covers everything, right? Not quite – a report by Ithaca College details how the average “full scholarship” Division I athlete winds up having to pay $2,951 annually in school-related expenses not covered by grants-in-aid.”.

I hear the typical reaction from here, “Oh no, how will athletes ever afford three thousand dollars a year.” One should remember though, that athletes – especially in football and basketball – are more like investments and can bring significant sums of money to the university. How significant? Since the 2006-07 season, each BCS bowl has been worth $18 million to the participating conferences. There are 75 participating teams in the six BCS member conferences for an average conference size of 12.5, earning each school somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.4 million.

Furthermore, Division 1A (since retitled “FBS,” or Football Bowl Subdivision) allows for 85 scholarships per football team. With a little calculation, we find that each one of the 85 scholarships nets about $17,000 for those BCS schools just from the Bowl Championship Series. A healthy return indeed, considering the massive corporate sponsorship money, alumni donations, and advertising involved in collegiate sports. And yet, “full scholarships” at universities are anything but full.

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Boise State’s post-season fate is a recent example of how impossibly broken the NCAA payout system is. In early December, Nevada beat Boise State, sealing Boise State’s fate of being left out of the National Championship game. The loss, more importantly, bumped Boise State out of contention for a BCS bowl – all the way down to the significantly less prestigious MAACO Las Vegas Bowl.

More fascinating, though, is that fateful night, in both teams’ final game of the 2010 season in the Western Athletic Conference, Nevada cost every school in the WAC about a million dollars. There are 11 teams in the WAC, and their haul from a BCS bowl would be a little over $1.6 million per school. However, because Boise State got knocked out of BCS contention and to the MAACO Bowl, the WAC member schools will only be receiving about $90,000.

It’s not even just the big schools raking in cash. Small schools benefit as well, though the process is a bit more painful. Often, major teams will schedule small schools early in the season as pushovers – warm-up games to help ease into the season before conference play starts, as well as the benefit of guaranteed wins in a system where any loss is catastrophic.

Imagine me making air quotes around “guaranteed” though, because occasionally the stars align just right and you get this:

These small schools, sometimes with four figure enrollments and less, make road trips to some of the country’s largest schools because there’s a significant payout for doing so. An article in USA Today goes over just how big some of the payouts are, including a few monster deals, like Navy and Arkansas State earning a million dollars each for playing games at Ohio State and Auburn, respectively. And in the video above, Appalachian State earned a smooth $400,000 for beating Michigan in Ann Arbor.

So there’s plenty of money floating around collegiate football. Surely the athletes, in their position as the sole drivers of the college football economy, should be allowed to earn a little cash on the side? But they’re not, at all – the NCAA even suspended AJ Green for four games for selling a game-worn jersey?

But wait a minute, didn’t Nebraska make something like $48,000 from auctioning off game-worn jerseys? Oh, you mean they did. And there were no ramifications at all, because they were in compliance with NCAA rules because they removed the players’ names from the jersey.

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Let’s make it extremely clear: the NCAA abuses its workforce. So when you see Cam Newton flash those pearly whites accepting his Heisman, don’t blame Cam. Don’t think about any transactions that might have occurred, or whether representatives for him tried to acquire money for his services. None of it affects his on-field talent, and until the NCAA stops exploiting players in the pursuit of profit, those same players will look to alternative methods to be compensated for their talents.

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Matt Emeterio is a sometimes-writer, sometimes-computer jock born and raised in Southern California. When he’s not updating one of his myriad fantasy sports leagues, he can be found near a mirror practicing his Norv Turner impression.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    They are already getting compensation…a free college education.

  2. Taylor says:

    There shouldnt even be Sports in College its for Learning Duh

  3. oh c'mon says:

    Hey, Anon, did you not actually read the article?

  4. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Chika Umeadi. Chika Umeadi said: Why Cam Newton Proves College Players Should Be Paid | Prose Before Hos http://t.co/Ap7MHNR […]

  5. Jarik says:

    you didn’t read the article did you?

    Plus scholarships are not nearly enough pay considering how much money they bring in to the schools. While a scholarship may have a market value of $20,000 per year at a big school, it certainly doesn’t cost the school $20,000 to provide the education to that player.

    • chris says:

      Comments like this are full of ignorance. People act like these athletic programs are rolling in money when the vast majority are not. The vast majority of football programs do NOT make a profit. Not everybody is Texas, Florida, Alabama, etc. These students get a FREE education which, on average, is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars over a lifetime. I’m sick and tired of people acting like they should be paid when 99.9% of all student athletes don’t bring a single penny’s worth of profit to their school.

  6. Horrible Argument says:

    You argument is easily refuted by simply stating that the NCAA is based on amateur athletics, similar to Olympic athletes, and that those receiving scholarships receive an excellent educational opportunity at top-tier schools.

    Another often heard counter-argument is that all of the money the schools make goes back into the school to pay for both educational and athletic programs. Often times university presidents state that the bulk of women’s sports programs and “lower-tier” programs would have to be shut down were it not for the money received from their top-tier programs (basketball and football).

    While most of these arguments are easy to refute, or at least poke holes in, the primary argument the NCAA always falls back on is “amateurism”. This is the more difficult to refute because it is a belief system that college athletes should not be paid.

  7. David says:

    College athletes receive many perks and benefits that their non-sports playing classmates do not, and are essentially treated like royalty while on campus. I know because I was one at a division 1 school. My sport was not even a highly popular one (cross country and track) and we enjoyed privileges not shared by the rest of the student body (free gear, free trips, per diem on away competitions, access to the best training facilities, to name a few), and I’m sure that was just the tip of the iceberg for the football and basketball players. This is not too mention a free college education, and the opportunity to train with dedicated coaches and staff and develop their abilities without the pressure of having to pay for tuition, rent, books, etc. When you’re a college athlete, life is good, and this charge of “exploitation” is way off the mark.

  8. […] it is that amateurism, the one component that separates the NFL and NCAA, doesnt mean much.Source:http://www.prosebeforehos.com/sports-editor/01/10/why-cam-newton-proves-college-players-should-be-pa… Posted by ltrawler at 6:12 AM Labels: cam newton, economic scenario, […]

  9. […] Source:http://www.prosebeforehos.com/sports-editor/01/10/why-cam-newton-proves-college-players-should-be-pa… This entry was posted in Sports and tagged cam newton, economic scenario, heisman trophy, national exposure, ncaa, NFL, payroll. Bookmark the permalink. ← Charles Barkley on Tucker Carlson: He’s a Nobody, Fired Because he Sucked LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

  10. Anonymous says:

    Let me know when your Chemistry project brings in millions of dollars at one event. Those ‘college sports’ bring in money to pay for your ‘beautiful’ university.

  11. Lorry says:

    College players bring in good amount of funds to the university. This is what the main reason, I personally feel.

  12. […] The best answer to stop events like the University of Miami scandal and what went on at Ohio State recently, is to beat people who are willing to violate NCAA rules to the punch.  By providing and regulating exactly what has been going on, then we may finally see a decline in the violations that occur with amateur student athletes. […]

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