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College Athletes Deserve the same Respect We Give Graduate Students

I caught this in article the other day: The NCAA cleared a Billion dollars in 2017. That's -illion with a B. It's not hard to see why people are calling for the athletes to be paid for their services. I agree that they should be reimbursed, but I don't believe that they should get rich off of their work as athletes. Much like graduate students in graduate school, particularly medical school or law school, athletes make a lot of money for their respective universities. But:

  1. it is in the name of earning an education as well as

  2. the opportunity to gain experience in their field of study.

I know that this is an argument that hasn't been made by advocates for paying the players, but don't those same things apply to student athletes? Particularly the athletes who want to go pro? How are student athletes any different than your typical graduate, medical, or law student? Aren't the pros just the industry they trained to be in?

As someone who has participated in the research process for multiple major universities and who has had one of his ideas patented (Geo-Imputing Electronic Health Records), I can tell you that graduate students and university staff do not receive full - or even appropriate - remuneration for their efforts. It's part of the employment and educational process. And to suggest that this lack of total remuneration equates to 'slavery', as I've heard some say, seems to suggest that college athletes are the only people within the educational system that don't get everything that they deserve.

I believe that student athletes should be paid and I do not believe that they have been treated fairly. I just believe that they should be paid the same way that graduate students are paid by the university, rather than being paid as if they are professional athletes. Having gone through that process in the late 90s, I can tell you that the $1,350.00 I received from my graduate institution made the difference between being able to stay in school and having to quit. I think that major college athletes should receive the equivalent of this amount, monthly, at base and it should go up for revenue generating sports. Here's a few other points I believe that the NCAA member institutions should include in the package that goes with signing a letter of intent:

  1. Guaranteed tuition support until a degree is earned. This means even after they go pro.

  2. Given the sorry state of secondary education in many areas of our country, I believe that each scholarship should come with 5 years of eligibility.

  3. For students who can not qualify to get into school because their grades aren't good enough, that extra year is an automatic redshirt year that won't replace the traditional redshirt year.

  4. During this extra year, the student athlete who wants to play but can't because of grades has a year to qualify in that academic institution's basic classes (precalculus, college prep composition, research methods, chemistry, physics, etc.).

  5. Furthermore, the academic institution who has offered the student athlete a scholarship is responsible for providing a curriculum specifically for these players.

  6. During this year, the player is allowed to practice with the team, just like any other redshirt athlete.

  7. Players get no stipend in their first year with the school.

  8. If you want to play one year and go to the pros, that's fine. But the stipend system should incentivize staying in school and finishing your degree.

  9. In that regard, the pay to players should INCREASE during their time in school and absolutely, 100% has to be attached to making grades. Those that stay the longest are rewarded the most.

I think the degree to which universities are making money off of student athletes needs to change. The schools are making money on the field and in the classroom as well. There's nothing inherently wrong with making that much money as long as the spirit of education as not for profit is maintained. We owe it to these athletes, who we all love to watch, to reward them in a way that encourages their intellectual as well as athletic development, the same way we do other future professionals within the education system.

Deshaun Watson got up after that hit and he did it because he's a champion. He did it for the game of football and for the University of Clemson. Like a the medical & graduate students who worked on Lyrica at Northwestern, his efforts made a LOT of money for their respective institutions. Like those other future professionals, Deshaun should have earned a simple stipend for his efforts. Not a lot. He and his teammates deserved the same respect that we give to graduate students.

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