Pay for Play?: Discussion surrounding paying athletes remains

Senior safety Nico Gonzalez (33) makes a tackle on UTSA player during their matchup at Riccardo Silva Stadium on November 4, 2017. (Nicholas Poblete/PantherNow)

By  Brett Shweky and Cristhian Plasencia/PantherNow Staff


On average, student-athletes may dedicate more than 40 hours a week training. According to a lawsuit against the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and also the National Collegiate Athletic Association back in Oct. 2014, claims were made that the collegiate athletes spent 43.3 hours per week devoted to their sport.

Former UNC women’s basketball player Rashanda McCants and former UNC football player Devon Ramsay proclaimed that while they were student-athletes they were deprived of a quality education due to the amount hours devoted to their sport.

The lawsuit cited a 2011 NCAA survey, where student-athletes were asked anonymously how many hours on average they spent per week training for their sport.

The student-athlete self-report found that collegiate players spend at least 30 hours to up to almost 40 hours per week on average.

In many scenarios, collegiate athletes are training just like professional athletes. FIU football head coach Butch Davis spent a number of seasons in the National Football League as a coach, and applied what he learned to the practices and training sessions.

Panthers’ Head Coach Butch Davis walks down the field at the first day of Spring Training on March 5, 2018. (Nicholas Poblete/PantherNow)

“Everything that I’m going to coach and teach them are things that I learned being in the NFL,” said Davis. “When you share what made teams in the NFL successful with these kids, they have a better chance of having a longer career.”

Training for their sport can include film study, work in the weight room, personal training and rehabilitation. With many athletes having the hope of a achieving an athletic career after college, the amount of hours devoted to the sport are necessary.

Ironically however, the NCAA officially restricts student-athletes’ in-season practice to only 20 hours per week.

While the season is in progress, the collegiate athletes will also likely miss a good percentage of their classes due to travel.

For the men’s and women’s basketball team, they participated in 12 away-games this season. If, either of the teams went to the NCAA Tournament, they would have had to spend additional time traveling and missing classes.

The Panthers’ softball team will play in 27 away games this season. Their road matchups will range from Las Vegas, NV to Bowling Green, KY, and will also include a span of 12 straight away games.

The Panthers’ softball team runs the bases against the East Carolina Pirates on Feb. 11 at the Felsberg Invitational. (Nicholas Poblete/PantherNow)

With student-athletes dedicating so much time to their sport, the idea of paying the players has circulated numerous times. However, the NCAA deems it illegal for any collegiate player to be paid for play.

University athletic departments around the nation are bringing in millions of dollars because of the fandom of college sports.

Texas A&M generated $194.3 million in 2015 and 2016, accounting for the most total revenue by a NCAA athletic department during that span, according to USA Today.

The athletic department revealed nearly $92 million was from the contributions of the athletic program, and $58.5 million came from donations, specifically for their football stadium’s redevelopment.

In 2015 and 2016, FIU finished 98th throughout the NCAA in total revenue generated with $29,370,443.

“I am for it (paying athletes) but I don’t think women can be paid less nor should football players get paid more than volleyball players,” said Kartik Krishnaiyer, the former North American Soccer League Vice President for communications. “So, the economics become tricky. It’s easy to say, but how fair is it paying one sport more than another one?”

On the other hand, other students argued that universities would not have the funds to pay all athletes, and if so, who would determine the amount that would be allocated to student athletes.

“I feel like a lot of schools wouldn’t be able to afford to pay them, and students wouldn’t be willing to accept a tuition increase to fund athletes’ salaries,” said Allison Dunn, former admissions assistant for Florida Gulf Coast University. “Plus there would be competition among schools to pay more to be more appealing to better athletes.”

As the NCAA and all of college sports continues to bring in millions of dollars, the pressure to give some type of compensation will increase.

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