The past 12 months have possibly been the most scandalous in NCAA history. From Bruce Pearl to Jim Calhoun, from Oregon to Ohio State, violations of NCAA rules are the new campus trend.
There are a myriad of ideas for solving the unethical and irresponsible ways college athletics are handled. However, the most popular idea, and the one with the most momentum, seems to be some form of payment to athletes. And before you all clamor to support this idea, think about the effect it will have on non-basketball and non-football sports. Think of the domino effect such a scheme will have on baseball.
It’s no secret that college football stars and, to a lesser extent, college basketball stars bring un-godly amounts of money to universities. It makes sense that these stars, who know they’re going to make millions in the Pros, feel jaded at the idea that a college scholarship is compensation enough for the millions they bring in to their schools. It makes sense that players want to get paid for their talent as soon as possible. But it can’t happen.
Based on the above logic, college football players and college basketball players should get paid the most while players of sports that don’t generate as much money get paid less. The NCAA is already in a hole here. If they pay every athlete the same to avoid favoritism, stars are still going to be offered, and accept, impermissible benefits.
And what happens if the NCAA chooses to allow players to be paid based on the money they generate for their schools? Picture this: Boosters from the biggest, most popular universities contribute money to pay star players. In turn, recruiting becomes a money game and all but a select few schools will fall by the wayside.
Then there’s the issue of losing talent for sports like college baseball. In a world where college athletes are so talented, they are often recruited for and play multiple sports. Yet in a step-pay hierarchy, talented baseball players may choose basketball or football in hopes of making a little cash sooner rather than later. This would lead to a diminishing talent pool in baseball. The league would be faced with drafting more high school talent, or drafting more international talent.
One might ask, if a player is so talented, why not continue playing both sports in college? Money, that’s why. A powerhouse football program that is now paying for it’s star athlete isn’t going to risk him on the baseball field.
This logic goes for many college sports. Hockey, track and field, soccer etc. Paying athletes will hurt sports. It will surely hurt baseball.
Our American Pastime would soon lack experienced players and would look more like minor league baseball than a multi-billion dollar industry. The death of amateurism in college will be the death of Major League Baseball.