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NCAA to propose payment to student-athletes with stipends

By Jonny Harvey
On October 17, 2013


During the last few years, the debate as to whether or not the National Collegiate Athletic Association should pay college athletes has escalated.

Former University of California, Los Angeles basketball player Ed O'Bannon filed a lawsuit against the NCAA for collaborating with EA Sports to profit off of college athletes by featuring athletes in its video games without paying the players. Conference USA recently approved the concept of paying student athletes by allocating a small stipend on top of an athlete's college scholarship, fueling the debate.

Athletic administrators at certain schools believe stipends will tarnish the NCAA's viewpoint on the way athletes should be treated, and the NCAA put a deal on hold that allowed certain conferences to decide if they wanted to pay student athletes a $2,000 stipend for the 2011 season.

The NCAA plans to revamp its original proposal to please both the wealthier and less wealthy schools in the country, and legislation is still under discussion. According to USA Today, the University of Texas, Austin received $163,295,115 in total athletic revenue and $138,269,710 in total expenses. Smaller revenue schools such as East Carolina received$35,575,172 in total revenue and $33,623,495in total athletic expenses.

"Athletes need to get a student stipend to get them somewhere near what the average student gets," football Head Coach Curtis Johnson said. "When I was in college, I lived off campus with my scholarship check and lived dirt poor."  

If the stipend for student athletes was $2,000, Tulane would pay the football players alone a total of $196,000 per year and $640,000 per year for every student athlete. Tulane's new conference, the American Athletic Conference, will bring in television revenue but depending on the increase, that may not be enough to cover a stipend for all athletes.

The athletes commit to practice and play for the majority of the week, which creates little opportunity to work on the side; a scholarship that includes free education, food and room and board could be considered enough pay.

"I think [a stipend] would be helpful because we really can't work," senior defensive end Julius Warmsley said. "I'm not taking [away] from the fact that we get a [free] education, but I feel like we give a lot to the university. We are always under a microscope of scrutiny."

Several athletes said that their schedule does not permit them to work, even in the offseason.

"This is an everyday job," Warmsley said. "We work on weekends and sometimes we don't even get holidays off. In essence, we could be paid overtime or something like that. I'm not trying to take away from what they do give us."

Basketball players would have particular difficulty finding employment because their season spans both semesters; it begins in November and ends in March.

"We really can't work," junior forward Trevante Drye said. "The only job we get is the summer job for the camps."

How the NCAA values each athlete, depending on the sport they play, is a concern for the non-revenue sports. A stipend would not only affect the football team, but the entire athletic department. The school would be forced to pay players on non-revenue sports as well, and Tulane Athletic Director Rick Dickson said only 22 schools break even or profit from athletics.

"It would have to depend on each university and how much a student would normally pay to go there," Warmsley said.

According to USA Today, the most common stipend amount being considered is $2,000 per year, which could cost athletics departments as much as $500,000 per year if all sports were included.

"If you are going to pay a revenue sport athlete a certain amount of money, it is only fair to pay the non-revenue players the same amount," golf Head Coach Lorne Don said.

Tulane would not be able to compete with other big athletic revenue schools if there was not a regulated stipend.

"It's a slippery slope," Don said. "It would be tough to find the equity. Do you pay the student athletes from the smaller schools and the smaller conferences the same amount as the Bowl Championship Series schools that are making most of the NCAA's money?"

Though the concept of regulating the amount of money for each university is not agreed upon throughout the NCAA, it does not intend to pay a salary to its student athletes.

"I don't think they should be paying them because then you get into whether you pay them for performance or by [what] school [you go to]," Johnson said. "If you pay them more at Alabama than you would at Tulane, everyone would go to Alabama."

Tulane provides benefits including meal plans, apparel, tutors and other services that other students do not receive, the way an athlete would spend his or her stipend is an area of concern.

"[I would buy] things like food, toiletries, necessities," running back Orleans Darkwa said. "I wouldn't go out there and splurge. The young guys might want to go out there and get things they don't actually need. [If a stipend was implemented,] hopefully the coaching staff would emphasize that money is tough to come by and make sure that [players] should get what they need first."

Most players agreed that a small stipend would be nice but said that it is not a necessity considering they receive a costly scholarship.

"Getting our education paid for is enough," sophomore golfer Emily Penttila said.

Admist talk of a stipend, Tulane athletes noted their appreciation for the opportunity to attend a prestigious academic univesrity on an athletic scholarship.

"[A scholarship] really helps you for your future if you do it the right way and network, do your studies and do everything you are supposed to do for your future," Darkwa said. "What we are getting now I think equals our performance."

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