College athletes may get more rewards because of Supreme Court case. Will this lead to paying players?

Agreeing to pay players would involve hard work to make it fair and legal.

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Gerald Herbert AP

College athletes, such as Clemson star quarterback Trevor Lawrence, can receive any education-related benefits their colleges offer, according to a recent Supreme Court decision. That could mean money to buy a computer in addition to a traditional scholarship. The court didn’t address a bigger issue: Should colleges be able to pay student athletes money that isn’t related to the cost of going to college.

A recent Supreme Court decision may mean big changes are coming for college sports.

The court decided in a case last week that the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the organization that runs college sports, cannot limit the education-related benefits universities and colleges give certain athletes. This means schools can give football and basketball players extra benefits such as scholarships for graduate school or money for computers.

The Supreme Court did not decide the bigger question: Can schools give athletes benefits not related to education? In other words, the court did not decide if schools could pay the student athletes.

The court may decide that question in a future case. Here are some things the justices should think about when they consider whether the NCAA can limit the amount college athletes are paid.

Football and men’s basketball are the big moneymakers in college sports. Television networks pay more than $1.5 billion a year to televise the College Football Playoff and the men’s NCAA basketball tournament. As a result, college football and basketball coaches, as well as some athletic department administrators, make millions of dollars a year in salaries.

So it doesn’t seem fair that the NCAA limits what football and basketball players can receive from their athletic scholarships to the cost of attending the college plus a small amount of money. (Some of these athletes may soon earn money from the use of their name, image or likeness — on a jersey, for example — because of an expected NCAA rules change.)

[College athletes take a tiny (dance) step toward getting paid]

Most of the nearly half-million college athletes do not play big-money sports. For them, the money they receive from an athletic scholarship along with coaching, medical care and tutoring can be a good deal. Attending college costs a lot.

Sue Ogrocki


James Madison’s Odicci Alexander, shown pitching June 4 at the NCAA Women’s College World Series, was named Division I Softball Woman of the Year this week. If colleges athletes were paid, would softball players receive the same benefits as football players? Would star athletes receive the same amount as those who are not well known?

In addition, the money generated by football and men’s basketball teams often helps pay for less popular sports at the school. How will colleges pay for wrestling, rowing or even lacrosse, if more money goes to football and basketball programs?

Also, will there be less money for women’s sports? Is that fair or even legal? Title IX (9 in Roman numerals) of the Education Amendments of 1972 requires that schools give female and male athletes similar benefits. If colleges pay male football and basketball players, will they have to pay their field hockey and softball players, as well as their female swimmers?

Will all the athletes receive the same money and benefits? Isn’t a star quarterback such as Trevor Lawrence of Clemson University worth more than a third-string center on the team?

If colleges start to pay athletes in football and basketball, will some colleges drop out of Division I or drop the sports completely because it’s too expensive to compete? Will we end up with fewer college football and basketball teams?

It’s easy to say college football and basketball players should get a larger share of the money their sports generate, but it’s hard to figure out exactly how that might happen.

I’m not sure even the justices on the Supreme Court can do that.

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Source: WP