Originally Posted by Yachtzee
There are a few problems with your logic.
1. You fail to include the value of the education itself. Studies show that a person with a college education stands to make far more money over their career over someone with only a high school diploma. Starting salaries alone are almost double and many fields requiire a degree as necessary for a job. Many will make millions over what they would have made without a degree.
2. Aside from the few elite players, most of these student athletes will never play pro ball. That makes their free education all the more valuable.
3. Outside the big programs, few D1 football and basketball programs make money. At best its a break even proposition. If schools had to pay their football and basketball players, you'd see a lot fewer programs than there are now. That would mean a lot fewer opportunities to get a college degree for kids from poor backgrounds.
Lots of valid points in this thread. I don't think there are any easy answers here. Pay them and don't pay them are too simplistic. One thing that we need to remember is that while the scholarship athletes are getting free room, board and tuition (and in some casesd, a small stipend) they are (for the most part) attending classes and practices for their extra curricular activity. You hear of athletes getting up before sunrise to lift weights or run. Then there is the practice and - in some cases - film study. And that's not only during the season either.
It's not easy money for most schools either. Programs around the country are cutting non-revenue sports. The big schools make money hand over fist thanks to football and basketball but they are the exception rather than the rule. It has gotten so bad that the state of Iowa has told Iowa State University and (my alma mater) the University of Northern Iowa that they can't take any more money from the state general fund for athletics (The University of Iowa has been self-sufficient for a few years thanks to the Big Ten Network). UNI's president has said that they may have to drop out of Division I if not drop athletics period.
What do you say to the track and field coach when you drop his program so the football and basketball teams get paid?
More and more I seem to think that college athletics have got too complicated. How big do the football stadiums have to be? How much money do the coaches have to be paid? How many athletes who can't read at a 6th grade level do you admit because they are elite athletes? How much of your soul do you have to sell to get these players and keep the alumni and the athletic department happy? How many rules do you have to skirt - much less break - to keep these kids eligible?