On Wednesday, June 30th, the United States Supreme Court sided with College Athletes, believing that they should be allowed to earn some type of revenue based on their NIL (name, image, and likeness) in a hearing. This is a big milestone in College Athletics, as it has been known for a long-time that College Athletes were not allowed to make any money off their image. As of now, College Athletes can make money through sponsored content on Social Media, Autograph Signings, and Partnership Deals.

While this is a big milestone in college sports, it still does bring up the question: Should College Athletes Be Paid, or Should They Not Be Paid? I’ll be covering both sides of the argument, and giving my opinion at the end, so stay tuned.

Why College Athletes Should Be Paid:

As we all know, College Sports is an industry that is very profitable. College Sports are televised nationwide throughout the year and see successful ratings on big networks such as CBS, TNT, and TBS. The NCAA sees millions and millions of dollars in revenue, and as of 2017, the NCAA reported that they had exceeded $1 billion in revenue. Before College Athletes were allowed to make money, they did not receive any type of money. Meanwhile, their coaches are earning 6-figure, even 7-figure salaries for coaching their teams. These college athletes are putting their bodies on the line week after week, and as a result, should receive some form of monetary compensation as they are the ones on the field.

College Athletes are very committed to the sport that they play. The average College Athlete spends about 35 hours a week focusing on their sport. Those 35 hours consist of practicing, traveling, and staying in top condition outside of the field. College Athletes miss lots of time that could be focused on studying, looking for a job, or figuring out what they want to do as a career if they do not go pro. Because they are committing so much of their time to their sport, they should be rewarded for representing themselves, and their university on and off the field. 

As college athletes start to receive substantial amounts of money, it might be overwhelming to figure out what they should do with the money that they receive from things such as name, image, and likeness. What could be a good way to ease the pressure that college athletes face with the money that they receive is by universities hiring financial advisors to work with them and advise how to save and invest their own money for the future. The reality is that when college athletes go professional, they receive hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars from their team, and companies endorsing them, and they do not know what to do with the money they receive. They can end up spending lots of money on extravagant things, and might not have enough money for things such as taxes and bills. For example, in the NBA, 60% of players go broke within 5 years after their retirement from the game. By learning early, and having financial advisors teaching these athletes how to spend their money, this statistic can drop significantly over time.

Once College Athletes start to get paid more, it could entice them to compete for things such as bonuses, sponsorship deals, and a higher salary if personally and as a team, they perform well. Additionally, the school college athletes commit to could change based on the school’s popularity, and if there is a better opportunity for their financial growth. This could also mean that college athletes start to play for bigger schools rather than smaller schools, but it will be interesting to see this change over time.

Finally, if a college athlete does not decide to go professional, they will have received some extra money by committing to their sport so that they can save for their future. The majority of people who play competitive sports in college do not end up playing in a professional league. By taking advantage of having the ability to make money off your name can be a great way to save up and pay off things such as debt on tuition, car payments, tax payments, etc. Depending on the amount of money a college athlete receives during their time on the team, it could lead to receiving more money when they leave college if they get asked to do an endorsement at any time. 

Why College Athletes Should Not Be Paid

While lots of college athletes must be pleased with the thought that they can now receive money based on their NIL, there are still some people who disagree with the fact that College Athletes can now be paid. Here are some of the reasons why people believe that college athletes should not be compensated:

The biggest reason why college athletes should not be paid is that they are already compensated with benefits such as exclusive sports apparel, priority dorming, and increased scholarships. Some athletes even attend college on a full-ride basis, meaning that they do not have to pay a penny to attend the university they are at. While many college students (including myself) will end up having thousands of dollars in college debt when they graduate, some athletes will have little-to-no debt when they complete their undergraduate degrees. By giving athletes the ability to make more money off of their NIL, it will create an unfair advantage for college athletes, as not only will they not have any debt, but also have more money by the time they graduate. 

Going back to my point earlier that college athletes may choose a college based on the amount of money they receive, that could end up being a bad scenario for smaller universities. For example, if a university with more people, more programs, and a bigger fanbase offer a scholarship to play for them vs a smaller college that cannot afford the same things that the bigger university can, it is more likely that the athlete will attend the larger university. As time goes on, we can see a larger amount of potential college athletes choosing to play for a bigger university like Penn State rather than a smaller college in a smaller league. Additionally, by giving monetary incentives to college athletes, it could take away their love of the game.

Furthermore, because this is the first time that colleges will start to pay their athletes, it creates a question as to how much should the athlete receive and ends up becoming a logistical nightmare. Several questions can be brought up while talking about whether they should be paid or not. Should all college athletes be paid the same amount? Does one sport get paid more than another sport? Paying collegiate athletes cuts the line between what is and what isn’t a professional sport. Because determining how much a college athlete should get for a scholarship can be difficult to determine, it will be even more difficult to figure out how much a college athlete should be paid.

College Athletes are not professionals at the end of the day. They are college students, and during the time that they have at college, they should be figuring out what they want to be doing for the rest of their lives assuming that they do not go pro. They have multiple responsibilities outside of their athletics, such as academics, work, and other extracurriculars that they are a part of. And playing competitive sports throughout the week takes up a lot of their time, which takes time away from these important tasks.  Because they are not professional athletes, they should not have the opportunity to be paid like one.

Finally, the NCAA is a non-profit organization. The following is their mission statement: “The NCAA is a not-for-profit organization and is an association of member universities and colleges that share a common goal.” As the NCAA is a non-profit organization, it would not make sense that its athletes are starting to make money based on their NIL. Having it so that college athletes can now get paid based on their NIL means that their entire mission needs to be changed. 


Overall, there is a clear argument for both sides as to why college athletes should be paid. It is clear that college athletes spend lots of time on their sport, and by earning money based on their NIL, it can create an opportunity for college athletes to learn more about how to spend their money, and ultimately save up for their future. College Athletes are put under lots of pressure, and having some form of compensation can motivate them to perform better.

On the other hand, paying college athletes can end up being a bad idea. They already receive incredible benefits such as increased scholarships, exclusive apparel, and better dorming options. Additionally, they are college students, not professional athletes, and because most college athletes do not end up going pro, they should be spending time thinking about what they want to do with their lives as a career. Also determining which sport and how much each sport should be paid will create a logistical nightmare. It can also be a case that bigger universities with a bigger fanbase can pay more to an athlete, and smaller colleges can end up losing top talent. Lastly, the NCAA is a non-profit organization and would have to change its mission statement as college athletes are starting to get paid.

In my personal opinion, being a college student, I think that college athletes should not be paid. I will never understand the amount of pressure that college athletes have and the time that they commit to perfecting their craft. However, they already receive many benefits, and sometimes, depending on your popularity and school, you might have national fame. By having college athletes have the ability to make more money, it comes across as unfair to a regular college student like me.

So what do you think: Should college athletes be paid or not?