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Scholarships And Dollars: Perspective On Paying Players

by Chris Stephens
Aug 14, 2013 6:44 PM EDT



Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel can't seem to stay out of the news. The latest reports of him potentially receiving payment for his autograph could do him in as a college player. ESPN's Outside the Lines reported Manziel had two additional autograph sessions with brokers, bringing the alleged total to six. Everyone has an opinion about whether college athletes should be able to make money off their name and their signature (instead of the NCAA). There's also those who believe athletes should get paid a stipend since they're so busy with school and everything that goes with their sport. But it's not just as simple as 'here's a little money for pizza' every now and then. There's a lot that gets forgotten. What Scholarship Athletes Get When determining what an athlete should be getting in terms of a stipend, it's important to look at what they're already getting from the university. Not only are they in school on a free ride (tuition and books), but their dorm rooms, food, tutoring sessions and school gear all are paid. Let's look at the numbers. We'll use Manziel's Texas A&M along with Alabama and Georgia in our table. We'll use a seven-day meal pass for the dining hall. Keep in mind, this is per semester: Tuition (In-State/Out-of-State) Housing Food Other Expenses Texas A&M $4,503/$12,813 $4,225 $1,743 $2,062 Alabama $4,725/$11,975 $4,400 $1,578 $1,600 Georgia $5,131/$14,236 $5,290 $1,978 $2,556 * Note: Prices were obtained through each school's website. For Manziel, that means he's got at least $12,533 in benefits per semester. And that doesn't include all of the free tutoring and Texas A&M gear he gets. For a normal Aggies student to get the same things available to athletes, you're looking at somewhere in the neighborhood of $15,000-17,000 per semester, not to mention the opportunity to build a personal brand and compete for NFL jobs. And college athletes should get paid? The NCAA Rules While I don't agree with the NCAA making money off a player's name, there are certain rules in place. When the athlete signs a scholarship promising to pay for tuition, fees and everything that comes with being a college student, they agreed to follow by the NCAA rules. Nobody put a gun to their head and forced them to sign. When there are a set of rules in place and you break them, you must suffer the consequences. Just ask Dez Bryant, who said he'll be angry if the NCAA doesn't suspend Manziel. The Solution So athletes want to get paid. There's an easy solution to that. Pick one. The school (or NCAA) will pay you a monthly stipend to play, but you are responsible for your own tuition, books, fees, dorm rooms, meal plans, tutoring sessions and everything else. You can choose how to spend the money, but paying for school stuff is on you. If you don't pay up, then just like any other student at the school, your classes will be canceled for non-payment. And if your classes are canceled on you, that means you're not fulfilling the required number of hours to stay eligible on the field. Which means you don't play. Give student-athletes the choice. Let them make a grown-up decision on which is best for them. Will they receive more benefits by being on scholarship or by a monthly stipend (and whatever extra income may come in)? The argument that they'd like to have the money to order a pizza is null-and-void. All of the dining halls serve the food they crave, and all they have to do is walk there and chow down. Depending on the school, a student-athlete is receiving more than $100,000 dollars in benefits over the lifetime of their scholarship. They're coming out of school with no debt, which is something most college graduates can't say. They're not poor college students. They just don't realize the riches they have.