North Texas Daily

Column: California and New York are setting dangerous precedents with student-athlete pay

Column: California and New York are setting dangerous precedents with student-athlete pay

Column: California and New York are setting dangerous precedents with student-athlete pay
September 27
02:00 2019

The age-old argument over paying college athletes has entered a new chapter. Every day, it appears as if more and more people are getting behind the idea of the NCAA and individual universities giving wages to their student-athletes. Now, state congresses have gotten involved.

On Sept. 11, California Senate passed a bill called the “Fair Pay for Play Act.” This bill would allow for athletes at universities in California to hire agents and sign endorsement deals — something they weren’t allowed to do until their eligibility ran out or they declared for their respective drafts. It also included a clause that stated that universities could not strip scholarships from players who agreed to a sponsorship deal. The bill has made its way to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office but he has yet to veto or accept the bill.

With a bill like this, it wouldn’t be hard to believe that athletes like senior quarterback Mason Fine or senior golfer Lauren Cox would have received endorsement attention by their final year. In response to that, the NCAA Board of Governors stated that it would erase the distinction between collegiate and professional sports. But does it?

Professional athletes get paid, not just from sponsorships but from a salaried wage. Allowing athletes the option to sign a deal with an external brand, as long as it doesn’t interfere with what the team wears on the court or field, doesn’t harm anyone or erase the gap between the two levels.

Enter New York state. A New York senator has introduced a bill that would build upon California’s “Fair Pay for Play Act” and require that state universities redistribute 15 percent of their annual revenue from ticket sales to student-athletes evenly. The “New York Collegiate Athletic Participation Compensation Act” also includes a clause for colleges to establish an “injury fund” for athletes that receive career-ending injuries.

For a school like UNT, football made up 87 percent of all ticket sales in the financial year 2018, according to financial documents from the NCAA. The UNT athletic department collected $1,379,978 from total ticket sales in that year, $1,201,363 of which came from the football team. Fifteen percent of the total amount is $206,996. Using the NYCAPCA, each of the 350 athletes at UNT would receive just under $600, despite each team not earning the athletic department the same amount.

On top of that, only six of the 14 programs at UNT contributed to those ticket sales: football, men’s basketball ($131,715), women’s basketball ($19,996), soccer ($3,971), softball ($14,391) and volleyball ($8,542).

Now, if we took this from a less equal standpoint and redistributed the wealth based on input, football would hold onto $180,087 total and $1,488.32 for each football player.

Essentially, each football player would earn $1,500 for a years worth of work. Given that the average Denton apartment rent price in 2018 was $1,154 per month, that leaves each athlete with under $350 to spend on groceries, clothes and other essentials for 12 months.

Now, let’s take a smaller team into consideration. Tennis, which consists of eight athletes, didn’t contribute any ticket sales and would therefore either receive roughly $600 per athlete or $0. Neither of those amounts are enough to live off of. The whole point of paying college athletes is so they can afford to live and $50 a month is not enough.

I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether you think student-athletes who aren’t contributing ticket sales deserve a share of the revenue produced.

Washington State head football coach Mike Leach had comments on the issue, given that his football team plays three teams that are based in California (Cal-Berkeley, Southern California and California-Los Angeles). Leach stated that this gives California a recruiting advantage until other states catch up, which could be a while in the southeast. California and New York would have a phenomenal lead on recruits for a long time. After all, kids want to get paid.

Next comes the issue of how much a school will be allowed to pay its players. Assuming all 50 states had an even legal playing field, what next? The school that takes the biggest hit and offers the most will have a higher chance of signing star athletes and all of a sudden, high school recruitment turns into pre-1990s NFL free agency. Does the NCAA instigate a cap on schools? What happens to smaller schools like UNT that don’t pull in as much revenue from ticket sales? A theoretical cap would have to be low enough to where the school with the smallest ticket revenue can stay competitive, similar to how the NFL’s and NBA’s is set up.

Every student-athlete in the country should be allowed to make money off their name, number and likeness, no matter what Tim Tebow thinks. Athletes put their bodies and minds on the line weekly for nothing other than a scholarship, which doesn’t pay the bills. However, paying based off revenue gets tricky when you break down the numbers and see that realistically, no one is making that much money. California is on the right track but New York is setting a dangerous precedent that will ensure that no one ends up happy.

Featured Illustration: Jeselle Farias

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Zachary Cottam

Zachary Cottam

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