Critical Thinking Paper

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Since the formation of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, NCAA, in 1906,
then known as the Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the United States, IAAUS, college
athletes have never been financially rewarded for their efforts in sports. While a substantial share
of college sport’s multi-million dollar revenue stay in the hands of administrators, athletic
directors, and coaches, the actual athletes are not paid themselves. Additionally, many college
athletes live as financially strapped students and depend on scholarships to pay for their
necessities. College athletes’ full time dedication to their sport leaves no extra time for even part-
time paying jobs, and instead, they must rely mainly on scholarship checks to sufficiently
support themselves. Furthermore, the NCAA uses the likenesses of college athletes for
commercialization, but the athletes are not rewarded in return. In order to remunerate college
athletes for their contributions to their school, to give athletes financial independence, and to pay
back college athletes for the use of their likenesses for commercialization, the National
Collegiate Athletic Association Executive Committee must enact a bill bylaw that compensates
college athletes participating in revenue-producing sports for the revenues that their sport
generates.
There has long been a debate between the NCAA and college athletes on whether college
athletes should be paid for their contributions to their schools. Currently, the NCAA requires
athletes to adhere to multiple operating bylaws, one of which holds college athletes to an amateur
status. As an amateur, college athletes are barred from all monetary benefits, such as proceeds
from ticket sales and advertisements, and are only permitted to receive educational benefits. In
order to retain amateur status, athletes are prohibited from being paid in the form of, “salary,
gratuity, compensation, division or split of surplus, bonuses, and game receipts” (NCAA 59). On
top of that, athletes cannot receive meals, clothing, transportation or other gifts from individuals
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other than family members (Eitzen).
Opposition currently held against NCAA rules and regulations has resulted in the recent
build up of multiple legal actions against the NCAA that aim for the compensation of college
athletes. In July 2009, former University of California, Los Angeles, UCLA, basketball player,
Ed O’Bannon, filed an antitrust class action lawsuit against the NCAA. O’Bannon argues that the
NCAA has used the distinctive appearances of college athletes, “without their permission or
consent, to increase revenues and profits for [the NCAA], and in violation of state law” (Ed
O'Bannon v. NCAA). As a solution, the suit proposes that upon graduation, former student
athletes should become entitled to financial compensation for the NCAA’s commercial use of
his/her likeness (The NCAA Lawsuit). More recently, on March 17, 2014, four college athletes,
including Martin Jenkins, Jonathan Moore, Kevin Perry, and William Tyndall, filed a lawsuit
against the NCAA and five major NCAA conferences, arguing that the Defendants, “earn
billions of dollars in revenues each year through the athletes who perform services for
Defendants’ member institutions in the big business of college sports,” and that college athletes
should receive compensation from the NCAA’s massive revenues (Martin Jenkins v. NCAA).
While these recent events have fueled the debate on whether NCAA athletes should be
compensated for their involvement in college sports, and introduced multiple perspectives and
defendable arguments in support of athlete compensation, no legal decision resolving the matter
has been established.
As the perceived exploitation of college athletes by the NCAA continues to grow, many
athletes are looking for compensation from the organization for their contributions to their
schools. During the 2013 fiscal year, the NCAA collected $913 million in total revenue. Of that
total revenue, $503.8 million was distributed to Division I members, which was then allocated to
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university administrators, faculty, athletic coaches, and others within the division (Berkowitz).
Ironically, none of the 444,000 participating NCAA college athletes, who make up over of the
18,000 of the NCAA’s athletic teams, and who are responsible for generating these immense
revenues, receive any financial reward from the distributed fund (NCAA). Instead, athletes are
only provided with a subsistence wage in the form of tuition, housing, and textbooks (Eitzen).
The NCAA also allows the names and likenesses of multiple student-athletes to be used for
commercialization purposes, without compensating the athletes that are portrayed (NCAA 68).
This unfairly allows the NCAA to profit from consumer purchased goods that contain the
likenesses of NCAA athletes. In addition, when it comes to protecting players from having to
pay unexpected medical bills or ensuring that they receive the most beneficial healthcare, there
are no NCAA provisions in place. In some cases, a young athlete can be enrolled on the promise
of an education, “get injured on the field, and lose his/her only source of medical insurance
precisely when he or she needs it most” (Walsh). Many college athletes originate from
underprivileged and low-income family backgrounds and are unable to pay for the adequate
necessities not included in the scholarship, such as food and medical care (Eitzen). These student
athletes should therefore be paid to stop the NCAA’s exploitation of their student athletes for
profit without compensation.
Paying student athletes will allow the NCAA to compensate their athletes for the
financial contributions that they have made to their sport and school, as the entire revenue-
producing system of college sports depends on the participation and efforts of the school’s
athletes. Without the athletes to play the sport, the NCAA is unable to generate revenue from
ticket sales, merchandise sales, broadcasting rights, and other sources of revenue (Eitzen). In
order to give the athletes a fraction of the financial credit that they deserve, the NCAA should
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pay their athletes as a form of compensation.
A bylaw allowing student athletes to be paid will also give many an opportunity to make
a living in order to sufficiently support themselves. Contrary to the opposing belief, being a
student athlete is a full time job. On average, a student athlete dedicates 30-40 hours per week to
their sport (Eitzen). Whether it is a practice, a game, or watching film, many student athletes are
unable to find the time to work a paying job. As a result, these student athletes are forced to wait
on the money from their scholarship to pay for rent, food, and additional essentials. A report
conducted in 2010 found that Duke University men’s basketball players were valued at
$1,025,656 while the players themselves were living just $732 above the poverty line and a
scholarship shortfall of $1,995 (NCPA 16). It commonly goes unnoticed by the public that many
student athletes live near to the poverty line and are struggling to support themselves. Permitting
college athletes to be paid will give student athletes the money they need to provide for
themselves without having to find a job.
The NCAA should also allow student athletes to be paid to compensate for the use of
their likenesses in consumer goods, such as in video games and film that the NCAA has licensed.
In recent years, the NCAA has began to explore new sources of revenue, including the
production of NCAA on Demand DVDs, sold at $29.99 a piece. The NCAA has also licensed
NCAA Football through IMG College to Electronic Arts, one of the largest video game
producers in the world. In 2008, the video game sold 2.5 million copies, generating over $50
million in profit. While all of this money ultimately comes from the college athletes whose
likenesses are shown in the films or video games, none of the profits go to them. In 2010,
Electronic Arts paid more than $35 million in royalties to the National Football League’s players
union for using the names and images of the players in its professional football series (Branch).
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However, no money was given to the student athletes of the NCAA for the use of their likenesses
in the video game. By paying student athletes, the NCAA will compensate the athletes for the
use of their personal appearances in products that the NCAA has licensed.
The NCAA continues to profit from both the efforts and likenesses of their college
athletes, many of whom are underprivileged and unable to financially support themselves.
Through legal means, student athletes, with the support of those who patronize the entertainment
generated by the NCAA, must confront the NCAA to enact a bill bylaw permitting college
athletes to be paid, as it will give college athletes financial stability during their athletic careers
and in the future, as well as give athletes unbiased compensation for their significant financial
contributions to the NCAA and to their individual colleges.













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Works Cited
Berkowitz, Steve. "NCAA Has Net Assets of $627 Million, Say Records." USA Today 20 Mar.
2014: n. pag. USA Today Sports. Web. 24 Mar. 2014.
<http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/college/2014/03/20/ncaa-expenses-revenue-
money-mark-emmert/6651133/>.
Branch, Taylor. "The Shame of College Sports." Atlantic Oct. 2011: n. pag. Atlantic. Web. 30
Mar. 2014. <http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/10/the-shame-of-
college-sports/308643/?single_page=true>.
Ed O'Bannon v. National Collegiate Athletic Association. Slip op. 1-157. United States District
Court, Northern District of California, Oakland Division. Print.
Eitzen, D. Stanley. "Slaves of Big-Time College Sports." SIRS Discoverer. Gale/Cengage
Learning, Sept. 2000. Web. 24 Mar. 2014. <http://sks.sirs.com/cgi-bin/hst-article-
display?id=SMD0990H-0-
8837&artno=0000122555&type=ART&shfilter=U&key=College%20Athletes%20Paid&
title=Slaves%20of%20Big%2DTime%20College%20Sports&res=Y&ren=Y&gov=Y&ln
k=Y&ic=N#citation>.
Martin Jenkins v. National Collegiate Athletic Association. Slip op. 1-45. United States District
Court, District of New Jersey. Print.
National College Players Association. The Price of Poverty in Big Time Sport. N.p.: National
College Players Association, 2010. Print.
National Collegiate Athletic Association. NCAA Division I Manual 2013-2014. N.p.: National
Collegiate Athletic Association, n.d. Print.
- - -. "NCAA Participation Rates Going up." National Collegiate Athletic Association. National
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Collegiate Athletic Association, 2 Nov. 2011. Web. 24 Mar. 2014.
<http://www.ncaa.com/news/ncaa/article/2011-11-02/ncaa-participation-rates-going>.
"The NCAA Lawsuit." Frontline. Public Broadcasting Service, 29 Mar. 2011. Web. 24 Mar.
2014. <http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/money-and-march-madness/ncaa-
lawsuit/>.
Walsh, Megan. "'I Trusted 'Em': When NCAA Schools Abandon Their Injured Athletes."
Atlantic 1 Mar. 2013: n. pag. The Atlantic. Web. 30 Mar. 2014.
<http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2013/05/i-trusted-em-when-ncaa-
schools-abandon-their-injured-athletes/275407/>.














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Annotated Bibliography
Ed O'Bannon v. National Collegiate Athletic Association. Slip op. 1-157. United States District
Court, Northern District of California, Oakland Division. Print.
This lawsuit document outlines the O’Bannon v. NCAA court case. It states the
purpose of the case, the intentions of the plaintiffs, and other details/perspectives from
both sides. O’Bannon argues that college athletes should be paid for the NCAA’s use of
their likenesses for commercialization purposes. It will be used to describe the history of
the issue and previous attempts to solve it.

Branch, Taylor. "The Shame of College Sports." Atlantic Oct. 2011: n. pag. Atlantic. Web. 30
Mar. 2014. <http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/10/the-shame-of-
college-sports/308643/?single_page=true>.
This newspaper article argues for why student athletes of the NCAA should be
paid. It includes multiple statistics supporting its claim, as well as a few interviews from
athletes, coaches, and others related in the topic. This source will mainly be used when
arguing that athletes should be compensated for the use of their likenesses in commercial
products.

Eitzen, D. Stanley. "Slaves of Big-Time College Sports." SIRS Discoverer. Gale/Cengage
Learning, Sept. 2000. Web. 24 Mar. 2014. <http://sks.sirs.com/cgi-bin/>.
This magazine article compares college sports to that of a slavery plantation
system. It goes into depth on how college athletes are being treated unfairly and that the
NCAA should aim to fix these issues. Using numerous statistics, this source provides
several perspectives and reasons on why college athletes should be paid. This will be
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used to support the argument that athletes should be paid as compensation for their
contributions to their school and sport.

Martin Jenkins v. National Collegiate Athletic Association. Slip op. 1-45. United States District
Court, District of New Jersey. Print.
This lawsuit document outlines the Jenkins v. NCAA court case. It states the
purpose of the case, the intentions of the plaintiffs, and other details/perspectives from
both sides. Jenkins argues that college athletes should be paid for their contributions to
college sports. It will be used to describe the history of the issue and previous attempts to
solve it.

Murray, Daniel F. "Question of the Week; Should College Athletes Be Paid?(Sports
Desk)(Letter to the Editor)." Global Issues In Context. Gale/Cengage Learning, 25 Mar.
1990. Web. 26 Mar. 2014. <http://find.galegroup.com/gic/>.
This source is in favor of college athletes in revenue-producing sports being paid.
The article proposes that the NCAA should pay athletes equally by the hour and should
set a set number of hours that an athlete can reach, so that the allowance is not abused. It
also states that the NCAA should set aside money from all tournament revenue that will
be used to pay the athletes. This will be used when suggesting a solution to the problem
of athletes not being paid.

National Collegiate Athletic Association. NCAA Division I Manual 2013-2014. N.p.: National
Collegiate Athletic Association, n.d. Print.
The NCAA Division I Manual lists the numerous amount of rules and regulations
10
that student athletes must adhere to in order to continue being a student athlete. The
information from this source will be used when stating the current rules that the NCAA
has on paying student athletes.

- - -. Revenues and Expenses, NCAA Division I Intercollegiate Athletics Programs Report, 2004-
2012. N.p.: National Collegiate Athletic Association, 2013. Print.
This source provides statistics on the NCAA’s Division I revenues, expenses, and other
financial related aspects of the business. This will be used when discussing how much
money the NCAA is generating from student athlete contributions.

"The NCAA Lawsuit." Frontline. Public Broadcasting Service, 29 Mar. 2011. Web. 24 Mar.
2014. <http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/money-and-march-madness/ncaa-
lawsuit/>.
This article gives a summary on the O’Bannon v. NCAA court case and its impact
on college athletics. This source was used as background information when writing about
the history of the problem.

Sulmasy, Warren. "March Madness - Should College Athletes Get Paid?" Points of View
Reference Center. EBSCO Industries, 26 Mar. 2013. Web. 24 Mar. 2014.
<http://web.b.ebscohost.com/pov/>.
This source is against college athletes being paid. It highlights the current
system’s strengths and fairness toward college athletes, stating that college athletes are
already paid through their scholarships. It also includes several statistics on the NCAA
revenue and where the money goes. The information from this source will be used when
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discussing the perspective of the opposing side.

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