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Should NCAA athletes be paid to play?

Cody Cousino / Photo editor

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After months of news on Ohio State football players accepting impermissible benefits, some frustrated fans and students feel that student-athletes should be paid to play.

Collegiate athletes might receive full or partial scholarships to participate in one of 36 varsity sports offered here, but some students believe that scholarships are not enough and a recent proposal from the NCAA shares the sentiment.

“I think it’s stupid that (senior running back Daniel “Boom” Herron, senior wide receiver DeVier Posey and senior offensive lineman Marcus Hall were) suspended in the first place,” said Joseph Piñeiro, a first-year in mechanical engineering. “They should be able to make a little extra money because they are famous and they are Buckeyes. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that.”

Herron, Posey, senior defensive lineman Solomon Thomas, former quarterback Terrelle Pryor, and senior offensive lineman Mike Adams were all suspended for five games for selling memorabilia for tattoos and other impermissible benefits.

Herron was suspended an additional sixth game against Nebraska for accepting money for work he did not do, and Posey was suspended for an additional five games for overcompensation. Hall was suspended for one game against Nebraska for overcompensation.

Piñeiro is not alone. Brendan Connolly, a second-year in exploration, believes players should receive more than just scholarships.

“I think they should get slight compensation, but not anywhere near the amount of pro-athletes,” Connolly said. “They should get enough money to have spending money to live a college lifestyle, not just to be able to go to school and that’s it.”

One full athletic scholarship that an athlete might receive for an Ohio resident is $23,086 and for a non-resident is $37,981, assistant director of enrollment services Erica Thompson, said in an email.

According to the undergraduate admissions and First Year Experience website, basic tuition and room and board for the 2011-2012 academic year for an Ohio resident is $19,926 and $34,974 for a non-resident.

OSU is permitted to allot 85 full-scholarships for the football team, Doug Archie, associate athletics director for compliance, said in an email. The football team has the largest allotted scholarships than any other varsity sport.

A new proposal supported by NCAA President Mark Emmert might change money allocation for athletes. In a recent NCAA proposal not yet adopted by any collegiate athletic conference, student athletes could receive an additional $2,000 to support additional costs other than tuition, fees and room and board. If adopted, OSU students would have more than $5,000 for spending money.

According to the NCAA proposal, there would also be a reduction in the number of scholarships can receive. Football, for example, would drop from 85 to 80. Men’s and women’s basketball scholarships would also reduce from 13 to 12 and 15 to 13 respectively.

Also, eligibility minimums increase GPA and test score requirements, but there is no agreed term as to how much according to the proposal.

OSU 2002 National Champion cornerback Dustin Fox said he received about an $800 stipend a month as part of his scholarship. Fox said student-athletes had housing, books and meals paid for with their scholarships.

“It was part of the perks of being a student athlete — you got your books paid for, you got your housing paid for,” Fox said. “(The $800) was basically your housing allowance. If you lived (in a dorm) you didn’t get that money. If you lived in the dorm, they paid for your dorm and they put money on your BuckID so you can get meals and stuff.”

NCAA rules and regulations limit athletes’ practice times to 20 hours a week and maximum of four hours a day, according to its Division I manual. The hours dedicated to daily and weekly practices are equal to the time for a standard part-time job.

In reality, however, some student athletes dedicate more time to their sport.

“We put in more than 20 hours a week, let’s put it that way,” Fox said. “You have to, you can’t get by. It’s not enough time.”

Fox also added that it was difficult and practically impossible to work during the season, but it is possible for athletes to work during the summer.

“I don’t think we could work during the season. I don’t remember guys working during the season. I know I didn’t,” Fox said. “The only time I ever had a job was during the summer. Summer is way more laid back than during the season. Way less time commitment, as far as football goes.”

Some student athletes unable to work try to find other ways for an income. However, NCAA rules and regulations restrict athletes from making money on their sport. According to NCAA’s rules and regulations, student athletes “are not eligible in a sport if (he or she) accepted money, transportation or other benefits from an agent or agreed to have an agent market your athletics ability or reputation in that sport.”

Similarly, NCAA forbids student athletes from receiving additional money for work on the job that was not completed by the student.

The exception to NCAA rules: students are permitted to receive financial assistance from parents or on whomever an athlete is legally dependent.

Fox is one example of a student who received financial help from his parents, but believes athletes should receive more money in scholarship or as part of their stipends.

“For me it wasn’t (a struggle) but I was fortunate. My parents helped me out giving me extra money on the side,” Fox said. “Everyone’s circumstances are a little bit different. I would certainly say they could use a little bit more.”

Despite NCAA rules, some students believe large universities like Ohio State bring in enough profit and athletes should be compensated. In the 2010-2011 football season, OSU earned a profit of $51.7 million dollars. Within the football budget, $3.1 million was allotted to football athletes for grant-in-aid, senior associate athletic director Ben Jay said in an email.

The football season’s earnings help fund the football department as well as the other 35 sports, Jay said in an email.

Piñeiro believes this is still not enough.

“Athletes should receive benefits other than a scholarship,” Piñeiro said. “They are going to make a lot of money in the NFL if they make it there so they should at least have some compensation for what they are putting into the sport.”

Other athletes could also receive benefits, Piñeiro explained. All athletes could be paid based on their skill levels in their respective sport.

“The better players should receive more,” Piñeiro said. “That’s how it is in all other aspects of life. If you are really good at something, you end up getting more money.”

Garrett McMahill, a second-year in chemical engineering, disagreed with Piñero. McMahill thinks it would ruin college sports if athletes got paid.

“It would be the death of non-revenue sports,” McMahill said. “People wouldn’t want to compete in sports that they didn’t get paid for.”

Football brings in the largest profit in athletics at Ohio State. Men’s basketball had the second highest revenue bringing in $16.5 million last season, according to Ohio State Department of Athletics Operating Report.

Student athletes receive many additional perks for playing their sport of interest. Student athletes may be reimbursed for purchasing a “C” parking pass and request tutors. Athletes also have the Student-Athlete Opportunity Fund as well as Student-Athlete Support Services Offices, according to The Lantern report on April 17, 2011.

According to the report, Student-Athlete Opportunity Fund can cover: health insurance costs, educational needs such as the cost for graduate exams, provide an assistant director of compliance, and even travel arrangements in extreme circumstance, such as death in the family.

After four years of
playing football for Ohio State and believing that athletes should receive more money in scholarship and stipend, Fox said students should not be paid to play.

“I don’t see a need for it,” Fox said. “I know the players and people think that it would solve all problems but I think it would create more problems. I think students should maybe have a little bit more money to live off of, but I think you open up a whole can of worms when you talk about paying student athletes, especially as professionals. And then when do you draw the line?”

Several students on campus continue to hold their position that these scholarships and perks are enough, and that athletes do not need to be paid to play.

“They have scholarships to come here, they have stipends for books and personal expenses,” McMahill said. “They try to be professional athletes after college, that’s not what this is for.”

“College level is giving them their start,” said Jacob Delay, a first-year in biology. “Their scholarships are more than enough. It would hurt college sports in general.”

It is unlikely that student athletes will be paid to play any time soon. President E. Gordon Gee told the Lantern he expects OSU student athletes to always be seen as students.

“I want our students to be treated like students, period. Student athletes, student band members, student members of the Lantern,” Gee said. “I mean, I’m not going to put ankle braces on you and I am not going to have GPS systems following you. We are dealing with 18- to 22-year-olds and they are going to make mistakes.”

McMahill agreed with Gee.

“They are student athletes. Student comes first,” McMahill said.

 

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