NCAA Athletes Should Not Be Allowed to Receive Pay for Play

Eric Adler

I dedicate this essay to all NCAA athletes who would love to be paid for their hard work and efforts for their sport. You must understand the importance of education and the drive to better your life in the future in the long run.

Keywords: Logos, NIL, Priorities, Equality, Opportunities

Receiving compensation as an NCAA athlete has been a conversation in the college athletic world for a while. With the Name, Image, and Likeness bill being passed, there has been a lot of discrepancy among officials’ opinions about whether college athletes should be paid for their hard work or not, as students are now able to create their own merch based on their ‘Name, Image, and Likeness’ and profit separate from the school. As a Division I athlete at Wake Forest, I am surrounded by talented players who could very well qualify for payment given their performance. I often hear players spitballing about what they would do with the money if they were lucky enough to receive it. Oftentimes I hear about the excessive amounts of alcohol they would purchase or even talk about luxury cars. Now although this sounds like a lighthearted conversation one would have in the locker room, the harsh reality is that it could tremendously wreak havoc on the NCAA, as it would directly affect a student-athlete’s desire to stay in school and choose to further their education. Given I support the idea of paying college athletes for their hard work, I will be playing devil’s advocate against myself and fellow teammates, I will explain the importance of why NCAA athletes should not be paid. The basis of my argument would be the important rhetorical concept of Logos. Logos being the logical argument of a said stance. In the biblical story of David and Goliath, David the average man, better known as an ‘underdog’, defeats Goliath, the armed giant. In this scenario within the college athletic world, David being myself and Goliath being the majority of college athletes, putting an emphasis on the importance of education first and how crucial it is to minimize any and all distractions.

Given my bias being a Division One athlete, I understand the desire to make money for the many hours of effort put into one’s sport. There has always been a topic of discussion around colleges and if they should be allowed to make money off their athletes. Many colleges argue the scholarships their student athletes receive is their compensation for all the work they will be doing over the next four years. This relates to logos because it is always seen as the colleges or the NCAA against the athletes that make up both of these organizations, never a fellow student athlete. In the article “NCAA: Why College Athletes Should Not Be Paid,” Megan James explains the importance of understanding the investment these schools put into their students given they’re expecting them to perform up to their standards and bring home a championship or two for the school. Oftentimes in football, players are given a full ride for the entirety of their college career; this means they have the privilege of attending and studying there for free. The average tuition for four years at a Division I college is around one hundred and twenty thousand dollars. Now, include the additional money schools will have to put into their student athletes given travel, food, uniforms, and equipment. That one hundred and twenty thousand dollars can turn into a lot more. This could drastically affect the economic status of a school if they choose to pay even the minority of their college athletes.

Equality has been in the forefront of college sports over the past five to ten years. It is viewed as if you pay one, you pay all. This was expanded on in “The Case for Paying College Athletes” by Allen R. Sanderson. There are around one hundred and seventy-six thousand student athletes at the Division One level. If a school starts paying their athletes, then other schools will have to follow suit because this will create a rigged system for recruiting. This could cause extreme backlash on the lower divisions and possibly create less opportunities for student athletes. Now with this being said, Sanderson talks about how college athletes have found ways around the system over the past couple of years. They receive stipends for going to bowl games or going to the playoffs but sometimes some particular athletes want even more. Students will choose schools given economic status and reputation of athletic ability and overall fit. Then take a step back from there and look at all the Divisions One, Two, and Three. If they see Division One schools paying their athletes they will stand zero chance against them and players would only want to go to those schools so they can gain extra pay.

With that being said, it is imperative to consider the importance of education above other opportunities for student athletes. Like my mother always says, “Going to college is a forty-year commitment not a four year commitment.” I had a conversation similar to this article in my Education class. It refers to the “The Case for Paying College Athletes” article I previously cited, noting that educational performance levels are typically lower at bigger football schools. This shows the stigma around sports and how it can affect the culture of a school. Typically, those very schools that have dominant football teams would be paid first given that football attracts the largest crowd and brings the most revenue. If powerhouse football is already making an impact on the educational performance of students, imagine if they got paid while playing. There would be no need for school at all, they would just use their skill to get them where they want to go. This is such a short-term deal though, a degree from a university is a lifetime achievement that will carry you along for the years to come. But what happens when they get injured or are not good enough to make it to the next level? They would not be able to perform in school given the lack of dedication and commitment to their learning. It is very common to see former athletes with less opportunities after college given their lack of effort in the classroom, they thought they would play forever, sadly that is not the reality of it. Where I am from, there are many areas that live around the fact that if you don’t go professional in your sport, you are destined to stay in the same loop your parents are in.

This “issue” has escalated a lot over the past couple of years that it made its way to the Supreme Court. The New York Times article “Supreme Court Declines to Consider N.C.A.A. Rules on Paying Athletes” explores how the court broke down the legislation. They pointed out the tremendous revenue the NCAA generates and how much money some of the coaches are earning on a yearly basis, although they pointed out that the athletes “currently have no meaningful ability to negotiate with the NCAA over the compensation rules” (Times 1). Although the NCAA had pointed out that they should be able to make money on the side due to their Name, Image, and Likeness, more commonly known as NIL. This bill was just passed in th summer of 2021. I believe this is the best way for college athletes to receive pay. In a nutshell, this allows athletes to sell their name or image to companies or businesses that would like to use them as a platform to advertise their product. On top of that, the athletes are able to copyright their own slogan or design and sell it to the public for their own profit. It is based on their own name and they pocket whatever money they get. A great example of this is when Mississippi State Baseball won the World Series last year. The World Series is the highest achievement in college baseball. Tanner Allen, SEC player of the year, was a pivotal player for the Bulldogs in the series and attracted a lot of attention from the public. His advisor happens to be my advisor, so I have some insight as to how he took advantage of this new opportunity. The stars really aligned for him. He created a logo and a bunch of shirts, hats, etc, as soon as the NIL bill passed and after the first night of the website dropping, he made thirty thousand dollars. With that being said, having successful NIL deals stem from your own effort and success. I think this is the most important aspect of it.

I find it important that college athletes learn the importance of working towards their future and obtaining an education that is a part of their scholarship. Once you add a salary for people eighteen to twenty-two years of age in college, their focus will go to other things rather than their education. Finding drive and time management from their sport and schooling will carry them a long way in their life after college. Companies are going to invest in people that they believe are role models and serve a purpose in society. Same with the public, they will support those who are natural role models and serve their communities, this creates a desire for the greater good. For example, the mayor of a town, or someone creating a charity for their community. Playing sports in college sets them apart from the average student base already, they don’t need to be put on even more of a pedestal.

Works Cited

Emmert, Mark. “The College Athlete Model.” – the Official Site of the NCAA, 30 June 2021,

James, Megan. “NCAA: Why College Athletes Should Not Be Paid.” Medium, Medium, 4 Nov. 2019,

Liptak, Adam. “Supreme Court Declines to Consider N.C.A.A. Rules on Paying Athletes: [Washington].” New York Times, Late Edition (East Coast) ed., Oct 4 2016, ProQuest. Web. 29 Sep. 2021.

Ruger, Todd. “Supreme Court Cracks NCAA Defense of Athlete Compensation Rules.” Roll Call, Jun 21 2021, ProQuest. Web. 29 Sep. 2021.

Sanderson, Allen R., and John J. Siegfried. “The Case for Paying College Athletes.” The Journal of Economic Perspectives 29.1 (2015): 115-38. ProQuest. Web. 29 Sep. 2021.


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Feeling Rhetoric Copyright © 2022 by Eric Adler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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