Ultimately, there is no fair way to pay every college athlete. But I do have an answer to the question: “Should college athletes be paid?”
First, the proponents have to find a feasible way to raise the money to pay such performers without violating Title IX and changing the landscape of college sports.
According to figures compiled by USA Today in the 2011-2012 year, only 23 of the 228 NCAA Division I public schools made enough money to cover expenses. Of those 23, only eight, including the University of Texas, did not receive subsidies.
Forbes Magazine also compiled a ranking of the most valuable college football teams in 2013. The Longhorns were at the top with a value of $139 million, revenue of $109 million and a profit of $82 million.
Texas A&M was the only other Texas school on the list with a $72 million value, $54 million revenue and $36 million profit.
Sure, football and men’s college basketball — let’s call them the “revenue” sports — bring in a lot of money, but they have to do this in order to pay for all the other sports that hemorrhage money.
According to the 2013 University of Texas Sports Revenue Report, the only other sports, other than football, to turn a profit were men’s basketball ($10,220,155) and baseball ($4,302,058) during the 2011-2012 season.
The 13 others sports lost money, including nine women’s sports. Women’s rowing, soccer, track and field/cross country and volleyball lost more than $1 million and women’s basketball lost more than $3.3 million.
Texas and Texas A&M could afford to pay all its athletes equally, but the vast majority of college sports programs are not cash cows. For them, paying all athletes a substantial amount of money is impossible.
Because of Title IX, it would only be fair to pay every athlete on campus equally. But is it fair to pay the participants of those few revenue sports the same as the nonrevenue sports?
After all, revenue from football and men’s basketball provides the opportunity for most of the other sports to exist.
In the spirit of capitalism, only football and men’s basketball players should be paid.