Should College Athletes Be Paid? Arguments For Both Sides

In late March the National Relations Labor Board ruled that Northwestern University Football Players are employees, thus have the right to form a union.

Right now, that is not what the College Athletes Players Association (CAPA) is arguing, they want players to have a higher safety standard,and current and former players to have guaranteed health insurance.

The question of whether college athletes should get a paycheck has become a hot topic in recent years. There have been passionate arguments on both sides. How much should they get paid? How should they get paid? Does an athlete in one sport get paid more than one in another sport? No, they are already getting paid with a scholarship.

Proponents of paying athletes point to the billions of dollars television contracts bring in. They point out the millions of dollars in jersey sales. The fact that it is actually against the law to hold a job during the season.

Former Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter brought the case CAPA. According to, undergraduate tuition is $45,120 per year. That, in itself, appears to be the major reason why opponents of pay for play are against it.

Full ride scholarships cover tuition, fees, room, board, and books. However, not all athletic scholarships are full rides, especially if an athlete plays a “non revenue” sport (which is anything other than football or men’s basketball.) If an athlete has as a full scholarship, it is not four years, the scholarship has to be renewed every year.

At many large universities, the football program covers the entire athletic budget. Universities like Texas, Michigan, and Alabama routinely turn a profit.

Northwestern head football coach Pat Fitzgerald told ESPN he hopes the players turn down the union. “I believe it’s in their best interest to vote no…I just do not believe we need a third party between our players, and our coaches, staff, and administrators…whatever the need, we will get them.”

The NLRB ruling only applies to private universities like Northwestern. Northwestern and the NCAA have both said they will appeal the ruling.

Opponents of paying college athletes argue the value of the scholarship is payment enough. How can you argue when you’re getting a $45,000 a year education for free?

Supporters argue “Look at the money they are making.”

The other thing to consider is who gets paid how much. Should the fourth-string nose tackle get paid as much as Jameis Winston? Should the star point guard be paid more than the 14th man?

At this point, there are more questions than answers.