By Brandon Goncalves, Class of 2016 —
A few miles from her dorm, a popular sports store is having storewide sales offering 40 percent off basketball apparel, but for Alyssa Velles, the equipment she has will have to do. Student-athletes play for no money, but simply because it is their choice. Whether or not student-athletes should get paid continues to be debated among college athletes and coaches.
“Yes, I do think student-athletes should get paid,” said Alyssa Velles, a sophomore on the St. Peter’s University women’s basketball team. “There are times that I stay at school while my friends go out because I do not have money.”
Velles has been through the hot summers of preseason workouts and in-season weight training. Velles says it is difficult managing time and money with academics and athletics.
There are many students who agree with Velles, including Andrew Romero, a junior on the men’s soccer team.
“I think student athletes should get paid just because they are pretty much dedicating all of their time towards school and sports,” said Romero. “You barely have time to work or do other activities like normal students so I think it is unfair when all athletes’ time is pretty much taken up by sports.”
Romero admitted that it is not easy to stay motivated throughout the season, knowing he will not be rewarded with money at the end of the season.
Meanwhile, college coaches are some of the highest paid employees at their school.
According to The Equity in Athletics Data Analysis for the year 2014 to 2015, men’s head coaches at St. Peter’s University earned a combined $271,145. Julian Richens, the men’s soccer head coach at SPU, believes student-athletes do get paid.
“Division I and Division II athletes are able to get paid already through athletic scholarship money,” said Richens. “In some respects, some student-athletes see this as an entitlement rather than being paid or contribution towards their educational costs.”
Richens also believes that these students are basically receiving money to be a student athlete.
According to the NCAA, “Division I and Division II schools offer more than $2.7 billion in athletics scholarships annually to more than 150,000 student-athletes.”
However, scholarships are not all the same and vary from sport to sport.
Non-athletes tend to agree with Velles and Romero.
Andrea Veloso, a senior education major who does not participate in college athletics had her say on the matter as well.
“I do not see why only coaches should get paid the big bucks when they are just standing on the sidelines,” said Veloso. “They should obviously be paid, but so should the athletes.”
Veloso feels this way because she believes that it is the athletes who are performing and putting their bodies through extensive training, not the coaches.
Evan Brandsdorfer, a former student-athlete at Temple University and current St. Peter’s University men’s soccer assistant coach has seen the matter from both perspectives. He admitted that his mindset has not changed at all.
“Yes, I think student-athletes should get paid,” said Brandsdorfer. “The amount of time commitment that is required makes it almost impossible for a student-athlete to get a job, in addition to the time required by both the sport and academics.”
Brandsdorfer said that student-athletes must also meet certain academic requirements, making it more difficult to obtain a paying job.
According to the NCAA, “Division I student-athletes must complete 40 percent of the coursework required for a degree by the end of their second year.”
The NCAA also states that student-athletes must meet grade-point-average requirements that each institution enforces for graduation.
Other students believe that only certain student-athletes should get paid.
Jack Pounce, a senior graphic design major on the St. Peter’s University men’s soccer team believes that revenue generating sports should pay its athletes.
“I believe athletes should only get paid if they are being treated unfairly,” Pounce said. “For example, the basketball players playing in March Madness earning the NCAA hundreds of millions of dollars through rights and sponsorships, should get paid because they are the performers.”
Pounce explained that players represented in videos and commercials should also be paid because their identity is being exploited for a monetary gain.
One former college athlete did decide to fight back.
Ed O’Bannon, a former basketball star at UCLA, filed a lawsuit against the NCAA challenging the organization’s use of images of its former student athletes for commercial purposes and alleging violations of the Sherman Antitrust Act and of actions that deprived him of his right of publicity.
O’Bannon won the lawsuit as U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken issued an injunction that allows student-athletes to have money put into a trust fund by their schools to pay them when they leave.
“The students who are at larger schools such as USC, UNC, and Alabama should earn more than students from SPU because they bring in more money,” said Pounce. “The money should be divided among athletes based on how much money their respective sports accumulate.”
According to the NCAA, the organization earned $912,348,892 in revenue for the year ending August, 2015.
Pounce believes some of this money should go towards paying athletes.
Athletes who have experienced success in their sports also feel that student-athletes should be rewarded in some way.
Nicholas Dilio, a conference-winning senior member of the St. Peter’s University golf team believes collegiate athletes should be paid.
“I do not think it should be directly in money, but with some type of reward,” said Dilio. “I know from my experience, a lot of times we miss meals and either get small amounts of money or none at all.”
Dilio is a three-time MAAC champion yet still believes he and his team do not receive adequate compensation for what they have accomplished.
On the other hand, some people do not believe student-athletes should be paid because of the other accommodations that they receive.
Alyssa Ruiz, a junior on the St. Peter’s softball team thinks that student-athletes already get their fair share.
“No, I do not think student-athletes should get paid,” Ruiz said. “We get scholarship money, equipment, uniforms, and meal money throughout the season.”
Ruiz knows student-athletes are amateurs and believes they should not get paid because it is not their profession.
The school’s director of athletics, Belinda Pearman, agrees.
“I do not believe in athletes being paid,” said Pearman. “Once you pay an athlete it becomes purely business and you no longer will have education be at the forefront of the experience.”
As a former successful basketball player at the University of Maryland, Pearman said that it is a choice to be a college student-athlete. The encounters she had as a student-athlete have influenced her opinion.
“ My mindset today is a direct reflection of my athletic experiences,” said Pearman.