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January 29, 2014

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Because they shouldn't be paid (or "be paid") at all? Because collegiate athletics are an abhorrent waste of resources for most schools that in no way, shape, or form should be encouraged, let alone have more funds allocated IOT pay the athelete-students better?

If college athletes get paid, we could economize elsewhere by paying poets less.

No one is forcing them to write free verse.


NV - paying them what the market will bear might just accomplish that.

The sensible approach would seem to be: if the athletes are there primarily to be students, then the coachs ought to get paid something like what junior professors are. Maybe (maybe!) a head coach who lasts over a decade should get something approaching a tenured professors salary. But no way a college coach should be the highest paid government employee in the state. How much the coaches get paid is a pretty good indicator of how unlikely it is that the athletes are really students.

On the other hand, if the athletes are there primarily to play their sport, then they ought to get a share of the huge amount that they bring in to the college. And since a huge fraction of them will never graduate from college, even after playing 4 years, that really seems like the more realistic scenario.

Of course, the colleges could always try to get some of their money back from the NFL and NBA. After all, if baseball has to fund its own minor league teams, why should colleges do essentially the same for football and basketball for nothing?

Count:

"we could economize elsewhere by paying poets less."

I think we'd be hard pressed to pay them *less*, unless we start taking money from them.

On the topic, I can't imagine why they shouldn't unionize. Their schedules are absolutely brutal (I knew a few tangentially back in the day). Early morning workouts. Then practice. Then classes. Then more workouts. Then film. Then...I never bothered to add up the number of hours they were on the clock for the college, but it was close to if not in excess of a full time job.

I sympathize with NomVide's position, but college football ain't leaving anytime soon, and I'll pick my budget battles over things that are more expensive and less beloved (like the NSA).

"I think we'd be hard pressed to pay them *less*, unless we start taking money from them."

But you repeat myself.

Even more cost effective would be to have the athletes and players make the verses during their activity. If Vikings could do it on the field of battle why not the football players at touchdown? The salary would in part depend on the quality of the verses.

Frankly, the fiction is that student athletes are there for an education, rather than just working at a job which requires they enroll at the college.

Well, if college athletics (like the Olympics, Headstart, the humanities and social sciences) is "an abhorrent waste of resources, unionization will do away with it.

First, the majority of college/university athletic departments lose money, and even some big-time football programs lose money. Under Title IX, if any varsity athlete is paid, then all varsity athletes must be paid the same among. This will bankrupt all athletic departments, even the highly profitable ones like U. Texas. The consequent will be a large-scale shut down of almost all varsity sports. The only remaining ones would be men's football and basketball and women's basketball and maybe women's soccer and gymnastics.

This will spill over into the intramural sports, too. These generally share facilities with varsity teams like swimming, gymnastics, volley ball, etc. So, all those faculty, staff and students lifting weights and swimming will have to pay higher fees to support the facilities, of maybe the facilities will just be shuttered.

Then there is the issue of travel costs. All the big conferences are too large geographically. Eg, the ACC. Notre Dame has home and home basketball games (men's and women's') with BC and Miami. Good grief! How do you pay for that.

It is possible that all of Division I would shut down and revert to something like Division III. Think Ivy league.

Then there is the tax issue. If athletes are employees, then their compensation is taxable. This includes their tuition and fees now paid for by scholarships. At Northwestern, this is probably $50,000 to $60,000 per year. The taxes would be federal, state and local income, FICA, Medicare, some health insurance care and the state retirement system. All told this is likely to be 40% of gross, so the NW football players would be taxed at about $20,000 per year. Note that the tuition and fees is the biggest component of this.

Even the training table might be taxable. And what about uniforms? Some companies require employees to buy their own, and some provide a uniform subsidy. Is this taxable?

All in all, if the students succeed (unlikely), all college sports would look like the Ivies: rich and white. Maybe that's a good thing. Most of the current crop of student athletes in Division I are academically unqualified. At the U. North Caroline about 10% of the football and basketball players are illiterate.

bob, you seem to be assuming that a world in which NCAA athletes got paid would have all the same employment and tax laws we do right now. But the laws could be changed to make paid student athletes more feasible (I'm not saying this would be a good idea, mind you). Employer-provided healthcare isn't included in income, and we could simply change the code to provide an exception for athletic scholarships.

Also, based solely on my federal income tax class, there's no way either a team-provided uniform (or a subsidy for one) would be included in AGI: it's for the convenience of the employer and it's not adaptable to general use.

You've all read this I assume.

The Philadelpia Eagles are not employees of the City of Philadelphia, nor are they students at or employees of Philadelphia University.

Perhaps playing on a team that is expected to make money for the university should have nothing to do with whether or not one is enrolled at the university. Then the players can be paid employees of the team (or franchise).

Maybe they're students at the university the team represents, or maybe they're not.

"Even more cost effective would be to have the athletes and players make the verses during their activity. If Vikings could do it on the field of battle why not the football players at touchdown?"

SCANSION VIOLATION, 5 YARD PENALTY, NO FIRST DOWN

That's an interesting slant, hairshirthedonist.

I'm wrestling (college wrestling teams are on the decline, as are baseball teams, which is a travesty) with the unintended consequences.

First, these football mercenaries, perhaps older than the student body, with their hefty paychecks and expensive cars, would get all the girls on campus. As it is now, your male philosophy major already has enough trouble attracting a smart, winsome coed for weekend hijinks (do hijinks still occur or is it now just open orgies; I haven't kept up, even though my generation invented sex and vastly improved foreplay; for which we were never paid I might add, nor asked to be, the aactivity itself being conpensatory enough, or at least thinking about it; but a thank you would have been nice) over coffee and Schopenhauer.

If the players remain students but have hefty paychecks, I suppose an upside would be that fraternity pursers would have obvious targets among their brothers to hit up for the weekend beer blow-outs.

The downside might be more alcohol poisoning, more frequent replacement of major fraternity appliances on account of a spike in fridges, washers, dryers etc being hurled from upstairs windows for later disposal via bonfire on the quad.

Also pity the attending coeds even more for they will know even less of what they do.

If the team members are now paid mercenaries with no connection to the academic life, I'd expect their attendance at fraternity parties and sorority soirees could instigate even more mayhem stemming from petty jealousies.

Perhaps a rash of murders at fraternities using high powered weapons across the country, leading to even more weapons sales, a bad thing to my mind, but Sturm and Ruger's stock price will keep going up, so there is that compensation.

The chess team on campus will continue having very low rates of traumatic brain injury and concussions so I don't see any money in it for them.

I'm going to continue to ponder this.

Bob, perhaps we should step back and ask: "Why do we have college athletics programs at all?"
.
At the moment, the answer seems to have two parts. For most sports, we have them at the college level as a hangover from the Greek (Thales?) ideal of a healthy mind in a healthy body. At my school, they were called "club sports." They were a serious step up from the intramural sports programs, but the facilities were small and mostly dependent on alumni donations from those who had played in past years. But no (or at least extremely rare and small) athletic scholarships, and participants are expected to work them in around a normal class schedule. Graduation rates are comparable to those for non-athletes.

Then there are the big-time sports. They have facilities costing tens or hundreds of millions of dollars, their coaches (especially head coaches) make six or even seven figure salaries, and the athletes schedule classes around their practices. What they are, essentially, is an enormous money generating enterprise for the university -- both directly and thru motivating alumni donations. Educational value: nil. Graduation rates: a fraction of those for the rest of the student body.

The only exceptions to all this that I can think of, among the major schools in the country, are the military academies. There, at least, all the athletes (even football and basketball players) are still expected to take a regular class load and graduate with everybody else.

First, these football mercenaries, perhaps older than the student body, with their hefty paychecks and expensive cars, would get all the girls on campus.

Remember the Bill Murray classic Meatballs?

...it just wouldn't matter because all the really good looking girls would still go out with the guys from Mohawk because they've got all the money! It just doesn't matter if we win or we lose.

IT JUST DOESN'T MATTER!
IT JUST DOESN'T MATTER!
IT JUST DOESN'T MATTER!
IT JUST DOESN'T MATTER!

"If athletes are employees, then their compensation is taxable. This includes their tuition and fees now paid for by scholarships. At Northwestern, this is probably $50,000 to $60,000 per year."

That is incorrect, unless things have changed recently. I was scholarshipped/fellowshipped (if those are words) for most of collegiate career, often in excess of my tuition costs.

The portion that was used to pay fees/tuition was tax free. Everything above that was taxed.

As a curious feature of our tax system, it was explained to me by the IRS that the excess was 'income' but not 'wages' with the punchline being income had a higher effective tax rate.

Serves me right for getting all those degrees, I suppose.

bob sykes brings up a good issue on how this might interact with Title IX.

One thing that might mitigate some of the unfairness of the current system and avoid Title IX and other issues (including taxes) is to let athletes earn money from sources other than the school. If Johnny Manziel can make $5k one weekend by signing 1,000 footballs, then let him. He'd pay taxes on it, but it would be completely separate from the school and not subject to Title IX.

Directing some of the licensing/television money to the players work as well.

If they can make money above-board, the incentive to accept money secretly is greatly reduced. Let Johnny Football do a damned Doritos commercial if he can. Lesser-known players might get stuck with local car dealer spots, but whatever.

"Frankly, the fiction is that student athletes are there for an education, rather than just working at a job which requires they enroll at the college."

Posted by: Brett Bellmore

Agreed. And I'll further assert that the quantity and percentage of lies told by people opposed to this will be staggering, even for sportswriters, the NCAA and college PR people in general.

The main thing, as we've seen with Bob Sykes' comment, is weird assumptions that boil down to believing that the 'real world' is too complex and messy for things like unionization, employer-employee relationships and labor law.

Because special! That's why.

What they are, essentially, is an enormous money generating enterprise for the university -- both directly and thru motivating alumni donations.

I don't think this is accurate. Most programs, including many big-name ones, lose money when the accounting is done correctly.

As for donations, I think there is research suggesting that the effect of a successful football team, for example, is to shift donations from the rest of the university to the athletic programs. So you get bigger and even more elaborate facilities, and higher salaries for the coaches, at the expense of those troublesome academic activities.

Ugh:

Directing some of the licensing/television money to the players work as well.

All else aside I think it would be a good idea if some of this money - a serious amount - were put into a fund to assist those players who, inevitably, will face serious health problems later in life as a result of playing football.

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Whatnot


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