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Pay College Athletes

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  • More Money, More Problems?

    Would compensation for sports distract student-athletes from academics? Len Elmore and Joe Nocera debate.

  • Balancing the Books?

    Top coaches rake in huge salaries and are rewarded for successful recruiting. Would paying athletes level the playing field or deflate collegiate sports entirely? Our debaters weigh in.

  • Compensation and Title IX Compliance

    Is paying athletes a realistic proposition given Title IX regulations? Christine Brennan debates Andy Schwarz and Joe Nocera.

  • The End of Amateurism?

    Former All-American athlete Len Elmore makes the case against paying college athletes and argues that money would corrupt the spirit of collegiate games.

  • The Wild West of College Sports

    Should the NCAA be exempt from antitrust laws? Len Elmore argues an exemption would allow the association to better regulate money in college sports. Economist Andy Schwarz is not convinced.

  • Is Paying Athletes a Social Justice Issue?

    For people of color, particularly black athletes, education is resistance, argues Len Elmore. Would paying athletes reduce graduation rates and devalue the role of academics in collegiate sports?

  • Is the NCAA Exploiting Black Athletes?

    Joe Nocera says universities recruit top athletes for one reason: to make money. Is the NCAA exploiting football and men’s basketball players, many of whom are African American, for financial gain?

Debate Details

Pay College Athletes

College sports is a big-money business, with football and basketball programs generating millions of dollars in revenue every year. While coaches and athletic directors in Division I programs routinely score seven-figure contracts, student-athletes are currently prohibited from sharing in the profits. Is it time to rewrite the rules in college sports and allow athletes their fair share of the profits? Or would providing monetary incentives -- above and beyond existing scholarships and career supports -- spoil the sport?

The Debaters

For the motion

Joe Nocera

Columnist, Bloomberg View & Co-Author, "Indentured: The Inside Story of the Rebellion Against the NCAA"

Joe Nocera is a Bloomberg View columnist. He has written business columns for Esquire, GQ, and the New York Times, and is the former editorial director... Read More

Andy Schwarz

Andy Schwarz

Economist & Partner, OSKR

Andy Schwarz is a partner at OSKR, an economic consulting firm specializing in expert witness testimony, where he focuses on antitrust and class actions... Read More

Against the motion

Christine Brennan

Christine Brennan

Sports Columnist, USA Today

Christine Brennan is an award-winning national sports columnist for USA Today, a commentator for ABC News, CNN, PBS NewsHour and National Public Radio... Read More

Len Elmore

Len Elmore

Attorney & Former All-American Basketball Player

Leonard J. Elmore is an attorney and television basketball analyst. Elmore was an All-American basketball player at the University of Maryland, from... Read More

Where Do You Stand?

For The Motion
  • Paying student athletes is only fair. Top grossing college sports generate billions of dollars from athletic tournaments, merchandise sales, and sponsorship opportunities.  
  • Amateurism is a myth. Student athletes are treated like full-time university employees and are held to strict contracts that require countless hours of practice and training.  
  • Paying college athletes is a racial justice issue. The NCAA’s rules on amateurism have a disproportionate impact on minority players.
  • Many student athletes are forced to prioritize athletics over academics.  Top sports programs demand that athletes dedicate enormous amounts of time and energy to sport, limiting their ability to fully benefit from academic scholarships.
Against The Motion
  • Student athletes are already compensated through high-value scholarship and career training opportunities. 
  • Paying student athletes would undermine college recruitment and the spirit of collegiate athletics. Students would select schools based on potential salary rather than an interest in the colleges’ academic programs. 
  • Universities simply can’t afford to pay student athletes. Fewer than two dozen of the 350 Division I athletic departments actually make money.
  • Paying student athletes in revenue-generating sports would run afoul of Title IX, which guarantees gender equality in college athletic opportunities.

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  • Live Audience
  • Online Audience
  • Results
  • Breakdown

The Research

The Research

The FBI Is Doing the NCAA's Dirty Work

September 26, 2017

Charges of corruption and bribery in college basketball are about amateurism rules, not laws.

Save College Sports Before It’s Too Late

October 30, 2014

Cutting costs could save college sports from a pay-for-play revolution that would destroy the idea of student athletes.

An Economist Explains Why College Athletes Should be Paid

March 27, 2015

Andy Schwarz explains why the NCAA is not only morally indefensible but economically ludicrous.

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