Posted September 05, 2013

TIME features Johnny Manziel on cover, says it’s time to start paying college players

Johnny Football, Johnny Manziel

Well, welcome to the party. TIME put Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel on this week’s cover with a headline that reads: “It’s Time To Pay College Athletes.” Manziel beat out stories on Syria and Russian president Vladimir Putin for the spot, so it seems safe to say that college football matters to some people.

In the article, Sean Gregory cites a study that says each of the Aggies’ players would get $225,000 a year if the NCAA operated under the NFL’s revenue-sharing model, and he suggests a compromise to get the ball rolling. Gregory writes:

Here’s how things might work. All athletes would be eligible for payments in addition to any scholarship. But most schools would pay only football and men’s basketball players, since those sports produce the bulk of the revenues. A Southeastern Conference (SEC) school like Alabama could pay 50 of its players up to a limit of $30,000 a year. The best players would get near the maximum while others would get less; it would be up to each school to distribute the funds as needed. And schools could pay athletes in other sports, of course. A star baseball player, or a women’s basketball player at a powerhouse like Connecticut, could also get a paycheck. But the total amount any school could pay out would be capped at $1.5 million. Experts think this is a conservative number given the millions in revenue that sports and TV deals provide. Any cap won’t placate the free-market supporters; $30,000 per year, however, is a huge improvement over nothing.

Plus, athletes can make money in other ways. Universities should also give athletes at least the right to secure sponsorships, star in a commercial or, yes, offer their signatures for money.

Still, there are barriers which make things more complicated. If this solution were implemented, the already widening gap between power-conference schools and mid-majors — who won’t have enough money to pay elite recruits — would get larger. The issue of Title IX also comes into play, as does the fact many athletic departments already operate at a loss. Many schools would have to cut some sports entirely, but the hope would be that athletic departments would adapt and evolve as they always have with the changing times. Just because something doesn’t work right now isn’t a reason to dismiss it entirely. Progressive ideas, made with insight and forethought, tend to be more logically sound than snap judgements.

The good news is that the pay-for-play conversation is moving forward. A general-interest news magazine like TIME jumping into the discussion means that compensation for college athletes isn’t just a side issue of the sports world. Reform is coming; it’s just a matter of when and how.

18 comments
OSUDeuce
OSUDeuce

two years ago, wasn't it SI who vilified OSU, USC and Auburn over this stuff?  Why is it ok now, but not then?

zacktrobertson
zacktrobertson

Rather than looking at this in terms of paying college athletes, I think the real issue at stake is whether the NCAA has a legal right to prevent athletes from making money off of their likenesses, assuming the athlete does not use the NCAA or school logo in the merchandise. I don't agree with schools paying athletes directly, because it could never be done uniformly and in compliance with present rules and regulations. However, what the NCAA is doing with athletes (demanding that they give up all rights to their own likeness) is jut as equally absurd.

Here's an idea. Let them make any side money they can make as long as they do not use any NCAA material, but don't pay them directly. So you think this will open the floodgates to corruption- folks, you need to open your eyes. The gates have been open and flowing for a LONG time now.

cmi
cmi

I am so tired of this argument.  They are already getting paid.  I had to pay tuition, room & board, fees etc.  A scholarship gives them all of that.  It might not be money in their pocket but they are receiving something for their services.  And anyone that says there is a disparity between that value and what the sports bring into the school needs to think about it as a business.  The company as a whole makes more than the CEO, who makes more than the director, who makes more than the manager, and so on.  Why should college athletics not be the same?  University is the company, Head Coach is the CEO, and so on.


And don't forget, no one is forcing them to play.  It is their choice.  If they don't like it, too bad.  Then pay your own way through school like the rest of us.  For every kid that wants to get paid to play, there are a dozen or more who will gladly pay their own way and play.

GeorgeArnold
GeorgeArnold

People who argue for a pay-to-play system are just showing their ignorance, including this writer. If you are a professsional then you have professional responsibilites. Who pays for trainers? Dieticians? Medical care? What's to stop some booster at Texas from "guaranteeing" a kid $100k in autograph income if he will commit to the Longhorns? Can the owner of Tuscaloosa Toyota work out an endorsement deal for that 5star running back, a deal that includes a $70k SUV with 24" rims? No, folks, it would be an unholy mess.

lionking85
lionking85

Let's get a few things straight about the context of the Manziel article. While Time magazine may be a mainstream periodical, Sean Gregory is not by any stretch of the imagination. Gregory is an ex-NCAA jock (Princeton) with a short journalism career centered around sports. Wow, let's have Pete Rose write an article on why we should let athletes bet on their own sports. How will the gross sense of entitlement that already exists in college athletics look in a pay-for-play. College athletics needs accountability more than more commercialism. Amateur sports are amateur for a reason: no money. If you believe Gregory is on target, the correct thing to do is do way with all scholarship college sports. If you pay, these kids are professionals. Stop splitting hairs and get college back to its mission: education. People like Sean Gregory and the rest of the pay-for-play group will kill both amateur athletics and colleges. Mark my words, pay-for-play will be the endgame for many, many colleges and universities.

TheVon
TheVon

Pay for play eventually destroying Title IX isn't a bug, it's a feature.  

m.guszak
m.guszak

I find it a little amusing that somehow Johnny Manziel has been turned into a hero and martyr. People are actually spinning his reckless behaviors as some sort of deliberate strategy to expose some kind of injustice. This is the son of a millionaire that has never heard the word no once in his life. He flaunts rules and laws and does whatever he wants, whenever he wants. He does not even physically attend classes at the university he is supposed to be a student at. Manziel is what is wrong with college sports, he is not a student athlete, he is an athlete. I have no problem with his behaviors from a professional football player, but I worry about the direction of college athletics when all college sports simply become ventures for athletic mercenaries. There needs to be rules and academic standards in place or else a college education becomes meaningless. Let the Johnny Manziels go from high school to the pros or create some kind of minor league system in football. But let's stop pretending that the party boy that roams around the state looking to get drunk and has no physical involvement in actual classes is a student of a higher level educational facility and is deserving of some sort of pay. College football will always draw revenue, it did not just recently begin to do so because Manziel went to A&M.

da
da

Read David Hillis's article on U. Texas's sports budget in the Daily Texan. There are similar articles posted in Ann Arbor about Michigan's buildout of the Big House and Chrisler Arena.

da
da

Schools pay adjuncts an average of $2,700 per class. Those classes bring in a lot more money to universities than sports do. What people generally miss about this issue is that fans come to see the schools, the affiliation is with the schools, not the players, but even if you were to split revenues in the fashion the writer suggests, you'd have to change federal law (Title 9) and then you'd have to back out all the direct academic subsidies to sports (take Rutgers, $20 million a year) and student fees to sports ($10 million a year). Then you'd have to account for facilities. Both Texas and Michigan, the two richest programs, have had the academic side bond out $250+ million for sports facilities. That doesn't appear in the bottom line of the athletic department's budget because AD's don't have bonding authority. Who services that debt?


The problem is that ADs are NOT run like businesses, because schools are adept at shifting funds from one side of the ledger to the other to convey the appearance of profitability. If they were run as individual businesses, for-profits, with truthful reporting to the IRS, then you'd have to monetize all the training, room & board, academic counseling that athletes receive, and consider it payment in kind (just as universities do with teaching assistants). In other words, if the college sports were run like businesses, schools would NOT pay athletes, but instead they'd cut back on expenditures. Sure, boosters wouldn't like that, but business and the bottom line is the American way.


I'd like a journalist to do some real analysis of college sports expenditures just once, but it never happens.

Omagus
Omagus

@OSUDeuce Because Johnny Manziel is Whi--the reigning Heisman winner.

Omagus
Omagus

@cmi "I am so tired of this argument.  They are already getting paid.  I had to pay tuition, room & board, fees etc.  A scholarship gives them all of that."
--

Cool story. How much money did you generate for your school?

Action
Action

@cmi I disagree with you.  Get with the times.  Move on.

Tmad
Tmad

@Omagus @cmi At Wisconsin the football and other sports programs doesn't make much for the SCHOOL, nearly all the $$ goes directly to the Athletic department.

lionking85
lionking85

Omagus/Action--College sports are AMATEUR athletics. The scholarship is "grant-in aid contract" wherein you get a free education that doesn't have to be paid back while the school gets your athletic services." If I work for Apple and come up with the next iPhone, I don't get any more than my contracted salary/bonus plan. This isn't rocket science. What's next, high school's pay you for the money you generate? There are high schools that could easily pay their kids $15,000 a year. Hell, let's pay Pop Warners $1,500 a year. The Little League World Series just ended in PA--why don't they get a cut of the millions Williamsport/Little League make on that event? People like you will not only kill amateur sports but the love of the game only kids seem to recognize anymore. This idea will be the end of college athletics. I've worked in the athletic and education side of college for over a decade--schools will give up sports before they accept an NCAA that pays athletes to play. Simple as that. There will be no NCAA if they decide to go this route. Don't forget: ALL STATE SCHOOLS ARE PUBLIC FUNDED LAND-GRANT INSTITUTION i.e. Voters/legislators would have to approve anything like this because it makes these kids employees of the state, and thus, attaches liability to the state.

Omagus
Omagus

@Tmad @cmi You know what that changes about my point? Not a single, solitary thing. Revenue is being generated and the labor force most responsible for it is not being equitably compensated.

Omagus
Omagus

@lionking85 "This idea will be the end of college athletics. I've worked in the athletic and education side of college for over a decade--schools will give up sports before they accept an NCAA that pays athletes to play. Simple as that. There will be no NCAA if they decide to go this route."
--

Yes, yes yes. Just like free agency destroyed baseball. We've been here before. But even if you're correct, if the only way an institution can exist is through the exploitation of labor, then that institution doesn't need to exist.

Omagus
Omagus

@lionking85 "College sports are AMATEUR athletics."
--

This is a) stupid and b) false. Literally every single aspect of collegiate athletics is treated as professional except for the players. Coaches make millions of dollars. Billion dollar contracts are signed with TV networks, apparel manufacturers and video game companies. The ONLY time the "amateur" tag is ever invoked is when the discussion turns to paying the labor force that makes the entire industry possible. That just shows how corrupt and hypocritical the whole premise actually is.
*

"The scholarship is 'grant-in aid contract' wherein you get a free education that doesn't have to be paid back while the school gets your athletic services."
--

And why is this only applied to athletes? Universities gives out scholarships for ALL kinds of things. None of those other students are forbidden from getting additional money. So why is it the standard for athletes?