College athletics in the United States
College athletics in the United States or college sports in the United States refers primarily to sports and athletic competition organized and funded by institutions of tertiary education (universities, or colleges in American English). In the United States, college athletics is a two-tiered system.
The first tier includes the sports that are sanctioned by one of the collegiate sport governing bodies. The major sanctioning organizations include the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA). Individual sports not governed by umbrella organizations like the NCAA, NAIA, and NJCAA are governed by their own organizations, such as the Intercollegiate Sailing Association, National Collegiate Boxing Association, USA Rugby, National Collegiate Roller Hockey Association and Intercollegiate Rowing Association. Additionally, the first tier is characterized by selective participation, since only the elite athletes in their sport are able to participate; some colleges offer athletic scholarships to intercollegiate sports competitors.
The second tier includes all intramural and recreational sports clubs, which are available to a larger portion of the student body.
Competition between student clubs from different colleges, not organized by and therefore not representing the institutions or their faculties, may also be called "intercollegiate" athletics or simply college sports. College sports originated in ancient Greece.
Unlike in the rest of the world, in the United States today, many college sports are extremely popular on both regional and national scales, in many cases competing with professional championships for prime broadcast and print coverage, and for the top athletes. The average university will sponsor at least twenty different sports and offer a wide variety of intramural sports as well. In total, there are approximately 400,000 men and women student-athletes that participate in sanctioned athletics each year.
Principles for inter-collegiate athletics include "gender equity, sportsmanship and ethical conduct, sound academic standards, nondiscrimination, diversity within governance, rules compliance, amateurism, competitive equity, recruiting, eligibility, financial aid, playing and practice seasons, postseason competition and contests sponsored by noncollegiate organizations, and the economy of athletic program operations."
- 1 Beginnings
- 2 Organization
- 3 The role of intercollegiate athletics at U.S. universities
- 4 Popularity and importance of intercollegiate athletics
- 5 Revenues and expenses
- 6 Title IX
- 7 Debate over paying athletes
- 8 Athletes’ Rights to Their Likenesses
- 9 Facts about NCAA student athletes
- 10 Longest-running annual international sporting event
- 11 See also
- 12 References
- 13 External links
The first organized college sports club was formed in 1843 when Yale University created a boat club. Harvard University then followed in their footsteps, creating a similar boat club a year later. The creation of these organizations set the stage for the first intercollegiate sporting event in the U.S. This event took place in 1852, when the rowing team from Yale competed against the rowing team from Harvard at Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire. This marked the beginning of intercollegiate competition and triggered the creation of numerous college athletic organizations.
In the late 1850s, bat and ball games had started to become widely known and the sport of baseball was starting to become an establishment at U.S. universities. The first intercollegiate baseball game took place in 1859 between Amherst College and Williams College. The popularity of collegiate baseball increased from this point, and by 1870, college teams were playing extensive schedules. In 1879, the first official intercollegiate baseball league was formed. Track and field also grew in popularity during this time, and the first intercollegiate track and field event occurred in 1873. This competition featured a two-mile race between athletes from Amherst College, Cornell University, and McGill University of Montreal, Canada. The first intercollegiate soccer match in the U.S. took place on November 6, 1869, in New Brunswick, New Jersey, when clubs from Princeton and Rutgers played under rules modified from those of association football. The first intercollegiate rugby game took place on May 15, 1874, at Cambridge, Massachusetts when Harvard played against McGill University. The first intercollegiate football game between teams from Rutgers College (now Rutgers University) and the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) took place on November 6, 1869 at College Field (now the site of the College Avenue Gymnasium at Rutgers University) in New Brunswick, New Jersey.
In addition to the National Collegiate Athletic Association, there are other collegiate multi-sport athletic organizations, some of which also have hundreds of member schools. These include:
- The Association of Christian College Athletics, 24 schools
- Division 1, 24 schools
- Division 2 (basketball only)
- The California Community College Athletic Association, 107 members, over 25,000 athletes
- The National Junior College Athletic Association or NJCAA
- The National Christian College Athletic Association or NCCAA
- Division 1, 69 teams
- Division 2, 42 teams
- The National Intramural and Recreational Sports Association
- The United States Collegiate Athletic Association or USCAA
- Division 1, 85 members
- Division 2 (basketball only)
- The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics or NAIA, 255 members.
- Division 1 approximately 240
- Division 2 (basketball only) 80 members
- The Northwest Athletic Conference 36 members
There are a number of single sport-organizations, including leagues and conferences (see "List of college athletic conferences in the United States"), as well as governing bodies that sponsor collegiate championships (see "Intercollegiate sports team champions").
The role of intercollegiate athletics at U.S. universities
During the early 1840s, student-athletes contributed actively to all phases of administration and control. Student athletes were involved in the sporting process, made athletic procedures and regulations for universities and also played an important role in determining which sporting events would and would not happen on universities. Today, the kind of involvement on the part of the athlete is virtually unheard of, with the only remnants of student participation in athlete administration being programs in which student governments have some control over the distribution of free allocations to athletics. Furthermore, this movement today focuses on the role of intercollegiate sports in the United States rather than the contributions of the student athlete.
Academic curricula and requirements affect student athletes: College student athletes are required to attend classes, have certain criteria for academic success, and complete specific requirements to earn a degree.
"When academic and athletic departments have conflicting aims, problems arise that affect the entire institution. American society values the elitism of academics and athletics in a manner that provokes conflict for participants in both domains. At various colleges, it is believed that academic elitism can be constructed on athletic elitism: Athletic teams aspire to be national champions, while their affiliate academic institutions seek national rankings. However, the means by which coaches and faculty achieve national reputations can create conflict for student athletes attempting to exist in both environments. Although both aspire to excel, the different measures of excellence for academics and athletics necessitates compromise by those who are placed in both settings." This policy, attempted by a large number of colleges, works for only a few.
College administrators have the challenge of balancing university values while maximizing the revenues generated by their athletic department. To maintain financial sustainability, several athletic directors have stated that the elimination of men’s non-revenue programs is the only way to balance their athletic budgets. Men’s non-revenue sport teams will likely be facing declining financial support in future generations.
"Division I institutions are required to have seven athletic teams for men and seven for women (or six for men and eighth for women). As well, there must be two team sports for each gender, and each gender must have a team in each of the three season (i. e., Fall, Winter, Spring). Excluding basketball and football, teams must play 100% of their minimum number of games against Division 1 opponents, and 50% of games above the minimum number must be played against Division I teams. Men’s and women’s basketball teams must play all but two of their contests against Division 1 opponents, and men must play at least one third of their games in their home arena. In Division I, football is further sectioned into FBS (NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision), and FCS (Football Championship Subdivision). FBS schools must play at least 60% of their games against other FBS opponents, and demonstrate their ability to attract a high level of spectatorship." Additionally, college football bowl eligibility rules mandate that only one win over an FCS team can be counted toward the six required for eligibility; this in turn means that FBS teams typically schedule at most one game against an FCS team in a given season.
Popularity and importance of intercollegiate athletics
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Intercollegiate athletics have an impact and significant popularity in the United States. The reasons for this are both cultural and economic. American colleges seek the publicity of being successful in college sports, believing it to be good at increasing interest from potential students and donations from alumni, whereas a university's athletic history is considered unimportant by students in most of the rest of the world and alumni donations are much less substantial. As well, in the United States, college athletics is run much like a business and ticket and merchandise sales and broadcast contracts provide a source of income for the institution, whereas in other countries universities are primarily government-funded.
The scale of college sports in the US is measured by the great number of universities that participate, the number of both male and female athletes that participate, and the number of sports being played. Furthermore, the great scope of college athletics in the United States can be seen merely by examining the number of people who are fully employed and make a living contributing to college athletics, including coaches, referees, and so forth.
Several American colleges offer scholarships to athletes. Elite international athletes may move to the United States for their higher education, particularly if they are offered a "full-ride" scholarship.
|College football||156,990||2016 Battle at Bristol - Virginia Tech vs Tennessee|
|College ice hockey||113,411||2010 Michigan State at Michigan|
|College basketball||79,444||2014 NCAA semifinals|
|College lacrosse||52,004||2007 NCAA men's championship semifinal|
|College baseball||40,106||2004 Houston at San Diego St.|
|College soccer||22,512||1980 SIU Edwardsville at St. Louis University|
|College rugby||19,275||2013 Collegiate Rugby Championship|
|College volleyball||17,430||2008 NCAA semifinals|
|Collegiate wrestling||42,287||2016 Grapple on the Gridiron|
Another reason for the importance of college athletics in the U.S. is the important role it plays in the hierarchy of sport organizations. In his article about collegiate sports programs, Thomas Rosandich refers to a "performance pyramid", which shows the general progression of athletic organizations in the United States. At the bottom of this pyramid is youth sports organizations, since these organizations have participation open to nearly everyone. As the pyramid progresses, the level of competition increases, while the number of competitors decreases until the highest level of organized sport, professional sports, is reached. In many respects, the intercollegiate sports level serves as a feeder system to the professional level, as the elite college athletes are chosen to compete at the next level. This system differs greatly from nearly all other countries in the world, which generally have government-funded sports organizations that serve as a feeder system for professional competition. As well, in many countries professional clubs recruit athletes as children and develop them in their own academies, rather than through high school sports, signing them to professional contracts before they are done secondary school.
Growth of college sports
"Although there is no one certain cause explaining how sports in America became institutionalized within the university, three societal forces have been identified that played a role: the growth of the entertainment industry and the commercialization of athletics, the increased competitiveness of college admissions and efforts to create well-rounded student bodies and the increased competence and specialization of pre-college athletic talent. Viewed retrospectively over the past 100-plus years of its history, intercollegiate athletics has moved from mainly providing an avenue for student athletes and fans to enjoy sports participation to predominantly focusing on increases in revenue and institutional prestige that can be generated through a high-profile team."
Revenues and expenses
College athletics have a significant economic impact on their schools and local communities. Universities produce substantial revenue from their intercollegiate athletic programs in ticket and merchandise sales. The NCAA earned $989 million in revenue in 2014 and netted a surplus of roughly $80.5 million. "The NCAA brings in millions of dollars each year in television, advertising and licensing revenue, and the schools benefit from ticket and merchandising sales and donations." The NCAA earned approximately $753.5 million in revenue from various television and marketing rights fees in 2014. In 2010, two of the most profitable college conferences—the Southeastern Conference (SEC) and the Big Ten—earned over one billion dollars and $905 million, respectively. The University of Texas' football program, the most valuable in college sports, is estimated by forbes.com to be worth over 133 million dollars, totaling over a billion dollars in the last decade. Texas makes, on average, $93 million a year just from the football program. The two schools that follow Texas, Georgia and Penn State, each make around $70 million a year. The University of Notre Dame made $6.3 million per home game from their broadcasting contract. The average revenue per conference in 1999 was $13.5 million. In 2012, a ticket to watch a popular football game could cost from $100 to $3,000, depending on the team. Tickets to a basketball game could cost from $5 to $500.
Universities spend a very large amount of money on their college organizations in the facilities, coaches, equipment, and other aspects, and as a result many Division I athletic directors and basketball and football coaches have annual multimillion-dollar salaries. The highest paid NCAA basketball coach in 2014 was Duke University's Mike Krzyzewski at $9,682,032 and the highest paid football coach the University of Alabama's Nick Saban at $7,160,187.
As of 2015[update], "most large school" have established single-source contracts for supplies and apparel across all sport franchises,[clarification needed] the most lucrative of which was a US$200,000,000, 11-year contract involving the University of Michigan.
Athletics are increasingly subsidized by tuition. Only one in eight of the 202 Division I colleges actually netted more money than they spent on athletics between the years 2005 and 2010. At the few money making schools, football and sometimes basketball sales support the school's other athletic programs. The amount spent on an athlete in one of the six highest-profile football conferences, on average, is six times more than the amount spent to educate the non-athlete. Spending per student varied from $10,012 to $19,225; cost per athlete varied from $41,796 to $163,931.
Title IX (of the Education Amendments of 1972) — which requires gender equity for boys and girls in every educational program that receives federal funding — has specifically made an impact on the distribution of college athletes by sex since its passing in 1972. The law states that:
No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance...— United States Code Section 20, 
In 1975, the final clause of Title IX was signed into law and included provisions prohibiting sex discrimination in athletics. The regulations pertaining to athletics require that an institution which sponsors interscholastic, intercollegiate, club or intramural athletics shall provide "equal athletic opportunity" for members of both sexes. Since the passing of Title IX, many NCAA institutions have had problems with the compliance of these regulations. In order to successfully comply with Title IX requirements, NCAA institutions must meet one of the requirements in the "three prong test" as follows:
- Prong one - Provide athletic participation opportunities that are substantially proportionate to student enrollment. This part of the test is satisfied when participation opportunities for men and women are "substantially proportionate" to their respective undergraduate enrollment.
- Prong two - Demonstrate a continual expansion of athletic opportunities for the underrepresented sex. This part of the test is satisfied when an institution has a history and continuing practice of program expansion that is responsive to the developing interests and abilities of the underrepresented sex (typically female).
- Prong three - Full and effective accommodation of the interest and ability of underrepresented sex. This part of the test is satisfied when an institution is meeting the interests and abilities of its female students even where there are disproportionately fewer females than males participating in sports.
OCR (Office of Civil Rights) is one of the governing bodies that attempts to ensure that title IX is enforced. They have the power to pull federal funding from schools or organizations that are found to be non-compliant with title IX, although this power has never been exercised. The OCR will usually work with the school or organization that is non-compliant to set up a schedule or plan to follow to become compliant.
Research concerning Title IX institutional compliance and gender equity issues has found that:
- Division I non-football schools (formerly known as Division I-AAA) are more likely to comply with Title IX requirements than Division I FBS (formerly I-A) or Division I FCS (formerly I-AA) schools, which sponsor football.
- Smaller institutions are more likely than larger institutions to be in compliance with Title IX.
- Southern schools are less likely to comply with requirements.
- The attitudes of key individuals (i.e., university president or athletic director) are critical components in determining whether an institution’s athletic program complies with Title IX.
- A college’s reputation for academic integrity and for success in women’s athletics suggests greater enthusiasm towards creating equal athletic opportunities for women.
Impact on college sports
Title IX has had a considerable impact on college athletics. Since its passing, Title IX has allowed for female participation to almost double in college sports. Before the law was passed in 1972 fewer than 30,000 girls participated in college sports; as of 2011 more than 200,000 girls participated in college sports. Title IX has been both credited with and blamed for a lot of things that have happened in college athletics since 1972. Studies on the gender equity of sports found on college campuses have provided an examination of how Title IX is perceived. Questions have been raised over the equity between male and female student athletes. Females, regardless of whether an administrator, coach, or athlete, thought there to be less equity than males when it comes to these five factors: program support, financial support, sports offerings, scheduling, and changes in the past two to three years.
In regards to the concept of "pay-for-play," (see section below, "Debate over paying athletes") Title IX is generally seen as a substantial roadblock, only because of the differences between big-time men’s sports (football/men's basketball) and women's sports, but also because of the gap between those "big two" sports' profit-producing programs and virtually all other collegiate sports, both male and female. Depending on how one views "pay for play," this can be either a positive of negative effect of Title IX.
In addition, Title IX legislation has affected male athletes as well as male coaches. Title IX has been associated with the cutting of opportunities available for men and boys. As budgets are stretched to accommodate additional programming requirements for women and girls. More than 2,200 men’s athletic teams have been eliminated since 1981 to comply with the proportionality prong of Title IX requirements. Thousands of male athletes have been kept from participating in collegiate sports while men’s athletic scholarships and coaching positions have diminished as well.
Increases in opportunities for male coaches, however, have resulted from Title IX legislation. Before Title IX, 90 percent of women's intercollegiate teams were coached by women. By 1978, when all educational institutions were required to comply with Title IX, the percentage of same sex coaching had plunged to 58 percent. Although the actual number of female coaches increased between 1979 and 1986, the percentage of female coaches continued to decline over that same period. The all-time low of 47 percent of women coaching female sports was achieved in 1990. In addition, although men have broken into coaching female athletes, female coaches have not experienced the same opportunities to coach male athletes. In 1972, 99 percent of collegiate men's teams were coached by men, and the same is true today.
Title IX has increased opportunities for women in college athletic participation. Increasing female participation in sports has had a direct effect on women’s education and employment. The changes set in motion by Title IX have explained about 20 percent of the increase in women’s education and about 40 percent of the rise in employment for 25-to-34-year-old women.
Debate over paying athletes
In recent years[when?] a debate has arisen over whether college athletes should be paid. Although the earliest of star athletes were known to have received a variety of types of compensation (including endorsement fees), benefits to college athletes outside of academic scholarships have largely been prohibited under NCAA governance. In the 21st century, the high, rising income paid to some colleges by the media for transmitting games to their television audiences, has led some people to complain that the athletes should share in the colleges income.
There are arguments in favor of paying athletes. A few schools benefit from owning their own networks. The University of Texas owns The Longhorn Network and Brigham Young University owns BYUtv.
Paying college athletes would present several legal issues for the NCAA and its member institutions. If paid, the athletes would lose their amateur status and become university employees. As employees, these athletes would be entitled the National Labor Relations Act to form or join labor organizations and collectively bargain. Advocacy groups for college players could certify as a union given the revenue involved in college athletics." Collegiate sports is not a career or profession, paying college athletes would present issues under Title IX, which requires that institutions accepting federal funds offer equal opportunities to men and women."
About one in ten college teams help to generate a large net amount of revenue for their school, but the athletes are not personally rewarded for their contribution. This money is spread through administrators, athletic directors, coaches, media outlets, and other parties. None is given directly to the players. Collegiate athletics entails time-consuming, intense commitment to practice and play. Only some athletic scholarships are "full rides", and many student-athletes are not able to afford dining, entertainment, and even some educational expenses. Outside of summertime, when work is permitted, student-athletes have no extra time for work in addition to practice, training, and classes. Paying student-athletes would give the athletes an incentive to stay in school and complete their degree programs, rather than leave early for the professional leagues. They would be much less tempted to earn money by taking illegal payments and shaving points. By not paying their athletes, colleges avoid paying workmen's-compensation benefits to the "hundreds" of college athletes incapacitated by injuries each year. Furthermore, if an athlete receives a serious injury while on the field, the scholarship does not pay for the bill of the surgery.
Colleges such as University of Connecticut (UConn), Syracuse University, and Kansas State University have some of the worst graduation rates in the country for their student-athletes. UConn has had a 25% graduation rate until recently[when?] when they improved to 50%. Yet, UConn still receives $1.4 million competing in the NCAA tournament, despite the low amount of graduates. Paying these athletes would give some incentive to stay and finish college.
In 2013, Steve Spurrier, the head football coach of the South Carolina Gamecocks, said that all 28 men's football and basketball coaches in South Carolina's conference, the SEC, favored paying athletes up to $300 per game for football players and a little less for basketball players. It would cost the SEC about $280,000 per year.
The College Athletes Players Association (CAPA) focuses on the idea of giving compensation to football and basketball players. The CACA has not decided if this will affect sports that do not make money for schools. The NCAA has rejected the definition of student-athletes a "employees".
A USA Today article takes issue with the critics because the terms had been drawn up by the colleges:
For college athletes to be held to the terms and conditions of a one-year scholarship that have been set by the very authorities who financially benefit the most and render the athletes involved voiceless in the process is a glaring conflict of interest. In an article by usa today they state "Players in the NCAA's top-tier Division I bowl subdivision say they devote more than 43 hours a week to the sport during the season, and those in a couple of other sports — baseball and men's basketball — approach that commitment, an NCAA study shows." (Wieberg, USA Today) . . . The conditions of the athletic scholarship and transfer rules, prohibitions against agents, limits on due process, failure to deliver on the promise to educate, the unobstructed selling of athlete images, and the like are tools of exploitation that benefit college sport leaders while oppressing those who perform on the field."
Because of their demanding schedules most athletes have no time to make any additional money, making it difficult to help support needy family members. In 2010 ESPN published an article about Ohio State football players that had been sanctioned by the NCAA for accepting free tattoos and selling memorabilia they had earned. However, there are many that argue that student athletes selling of personal and earned memorabilia is their right, with gray-areas where which the NCAA has a hard time justifying their punishments.
After a number of efforts to go to trial against the NCAA's incoming revenue, a court date has been set. Former UCLA Bruin Ed O'Bannon along with Oscar Robertson and Bill Russell lead the lawsuit. The trial is scheduled to begin during the summer of 2014. Although the NCAA claims that their athletes have amateur status, the organization has made billions of dollars off of merchandise licenses. The NCAA has earned billions from broadcast revenues annually. By selling the image of their players, the NCAA is able to make money from each sport. O'Bannon has stated that some of this revenue should be spread out among the players who help bring in this cash to the NCAA. ESPN analyst Jay Bilas showed how a person could search the NCAA website by player name and have the resulting school jersey appear.
In a 2014 court case brought by a few Northwestern University football players against the NCAA, argued that the players should be able to unionize and bargain collectively. The court ruled in the players favor. The court's decision only applied to those football players at Northwestern on a scholarship. Required football practice and playing had reduced the time students could use to pursue their studies. Former player Kain Colter argued that athletic departments should decrease the maximum amount of hours a player must participate in a sport to remain part of the team and retain a scholarship. As it stands, 50 hours a week is the maximum.
Arguments against paying college athletes
College athletes that receive a full scholarship to college already benefit from perks that the general student body does not receive. College athletes are able to take advantage of free room and board, the best dorm rooms on campus, free books and classes, and first choice of classes they want. A college athlete can receive up to $120,000 in total scholarships; they already are being paid for their participation.
"The average fair market value of top-tier college football and men’s basketball players is over $100,000 each. If college sports shared their revenues the way pro sports do, the average Football Bowl Subdivision player would be worth $121,000 per year, while the average basketball player at that level would be worth $265,000. Out of 332 schools currently competing in the NCAA Division I, fewer than a dozen have athletic departments that are making a profit. 14 of the 120 programs that comprise the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) are profitable. 88% of the top football programs in the country are losing money. Most universities are unable to pay for these athletes, along with the coaches and renovations on stadiums, out of money earned from athletics. Kenny Mossman of the University of Oklahoma (OU), estimated that the cost to OU would be $3.6 million a year if stipends were $1,000 a month.
College athletes currently receive an enormous amount benefits when they step on campus. They are able to pick their classes before any other students. They also receive the best tutoring possible to ensure they will be eligible for their respective sport season. Many people make the argument today that they should be paid for all they do for the university. Some people also believe that they are already being paid. They are on the receiving end of more than a few benefits. Today, some schools can cost up $100,000 by the end of a students senior year. College athletes have the benefit of not having the burden of paying their college off after school. They receive one of the most important assets an individual can receive for little or no cost. The current system is working fine, and college athletes do not need to be paid.
Works Cited: O’shaugnessy, Lynn. “8 things you should know about sports scholarships.” CBSmoneywatch. CBS moneywatch, 20 September 2012. Web. Apr. 17. 2016. <http://www.cbsnews.com/news/8-things-you-should-know-about-sports-scholarships/>
"The NCAA also is setting up a $17 million Student-Athlete Opportunity Fund that has no financial-need restrictions. It's to be used for "educational and developmental opportunities." [Nebraska Proposal, 2009]. This debate has caused certain elite colleges to take caution asking athletes to sign forms that prevent them from suing the college. The signed forms gives the college full imagery benefits, allowing them to use their names to sell team T-shirts and jerseys. Insurance wise - a plan proposed by William E. Kirwan, Ohio State University President, would insure athletes against injuries and mishaps during workouts, practices and games.
Because of title IX, all college athletes would have to be paid, including athletes playing for teams that do not produce a lot of revenue. College sponsored sports would be cut in order to make a business case for paying athletes work economically. Colleges would still be able to field "club teams" for those sports. "Club team" players almost never receive scholarships and are truly amateur athletes in every sense of the word.
Non-revenue sports would suffer. Over all the sports available to division one programs, only Football and Basketball actually make a profit, with the exception of Baseball in very few instances. The rest of the sports either break even or, more often than not, cost the school more than they contribute. Larger universities would be the only ones able to pay their football/basketball players while supporting smaller market sports and are very few colleges fall into this category. The colleges that do happen to fall into this category are in five out of the 33 division one conferences. Non-revenue sports likely will be thinned out, high school athletes will lose the chance to continue competing and a larger emphasis on collegiate competition will take place within the power five conferences.
Further examples of athletes being treated like royalty at their universities can be seen through the University of Oregon. The John E. Jaqua Academic Center for the varsity athletes at the University of Oregon is a 40,000 square foot facility to assist athletes with their education. The extravagant space contains an auditorium with 114 leather seats, dozens of tutoring rooms and academic and life-skill advising offices, a computer and graphics lab, library with study spaces, lounge with large flat-screen televisions and deluxe sofas, as well as a kitchen and café filled with food and new equipment. The staff, technology, and rooms inside the academic center are all reserved for the varsity athletes, who make up 2.5% of the student population at the school. In addition, the 1,700 private tutoring sessions per week are conveniently displayed on a massive screen similar to the screens that display flight information at an airport. Adding to the exclusive treatment the student-athletes receive, the academic center is surrounded by a moat. The athletic facility adds to the royal treatment of the student-athletes. The University of Oregon’s football practice facility is 145,000 square feet and contains three indoor practice fields, a two story weight room, countless whirlpools and medical tables, enormous lockers, and luxurious lounges containing gaming stations and flat-screen televisions. Other amenities at the practice facility include a cafeteria (players receive high quality, tailored, nutritious diets), multiple conference rooms and classrooms, a pool table and barbershop. The student-athletes have luxurious facilities at their disposal, and they are already getting paid in the form of their scholarships.
If full ride scholarships to top universities is not suitable compensation for student-athletes, a college education and degree is being devalued. Student-athletes may heavily invest their time into the sport they play, however, that does not change the worth of their academic degree. Every student-athlete is not going to become a professional athlete, but they are guaranteed a college education and degree to help them graduate with little or no debt via their scholarships. If universities start paying student-athletes, the universities would not be focused on what the student-athletes are attending for, which is the education and degree they receive. An education in the long-run is very valuable, and with the scholarships the student-athletes get, they can take advantage of a great education at little to no cost.
Universities offer students more than just the education and degree they receive. Lectures by prominent industry figures, concerts, movies, fitness facilities, student clubs are a few additional benefits that universities generally subsidize through fees added to tuition bills. This means that the full-scholarship athletes can attend these activities all for free. Universities also offer unique benefits to the student-athletes such as team-only workout facilities, top coaches, nutrition personnel, shiny gyms, lush fields, medical care, travel to away games, customized meal plans, free gear, and athletic attire. The university also offers the student-athletes the opportunity to play competitive games in large stadiums packed with committed fans, which allows student-athletes to garner media attention, and name recognition.
Athletes are aware of what they are committing to when they sign their full-scholarship forms. The school will be in charge of paying the student-athletes’ expenses, and the student-athlete has the opportunity to earn an education, take part in academic and social activities in college, and play their sport in a high-profile manner. The best schools in certain sports naturally will attract the best recruits, as evidenced by the fact that the championships in the major sports are usually won by the same small group of schools that have dominated the sport. If paying players becomes normal, the universities that have made money from their winning teams would have an even greater advantage in attracting recruits. These universities would be able to pay players more money, thus getting the best players.
Title IX needs to be considered in the discussion regarding paying college athletes. Title IX prohibits excluding female athletes from education and financial benefit. If a university decides to pay the football team, other teams will need to be paid as well. Further, paying college football players will result in universities entering heated bidding wars while they are attracting recruits.
Mark Emmert, NCAA president is opposed to paying college athletes because it would encourage universities to bribe athletes. Emmert believes that if student-athletes were paid to play, there would be more pressure on boosters and agents to bribe student-athletes to play for a certain university and to financially support them while they are playing at the university. Emmert stands by the ideals that student-athletes are students first, and he backs up this ideal by noting student-athletes' graduation rate across all demographics is greater than the non-athletes. Emmert also stands behind the ideal that the money student-athletes receive through their scholarships is equal or greater than payments the proponents of pay-for-play advocate for.
Athletes’ Rights to Their Likenesses
Figuring out how to pay college athletes is more difficult than giving them the rights to their likenesses. Currently, college athletes do not make money off of jersey sales if the jersey has their number on it, and college athletes can not use their image to score an endorsement deal. A.J. Green was a wide receiver for the University of Georgia who sold his own jersey for personal profit. Because he was a student-athlete under the NCAA, it was illegal for him to do so and he was suspended four games. While serving his suspension, the University of Georgia continued to sell Green’s jerseys for its own financial gain. Ed O’Bannon’s case is at the forefront of the movement to allow players to student-athletes to profit off their likenesses. The NCAA makes hefty profits by selling merchandise utilizing players’ identities in the form of their numbers. The student-athletes’ likenesses are being exploited so the NCAA can profit from their jerseys. Television broadcasts also utilize student-athletes’ likenesses without paying them. These are broadcasts that are part of million and billion-dollar deals between the NCAA and broadcasting companies such as ESPN, CBS, and Fox. The student-athletes’ names and images are show on television broadcasts and in days prior to the game in promotional clips. The student-athletes are not being paid for any of this usage.
Cases Involving Student-Athletes’ Likenesses
EA Sports manufactures the NCAA football and NCAA Basketball video games, and these games use the likenesses of the student-athletes on their respective teams. Former athletes have brought about lawsuits against the NCAA, the Collegiate Licensing Company (the NCAA’s licensing arm), and Electronic Arts, Incorporated (EA) over the use of student-athletes’ likenesses in the NCAA Football, Basketball, and March Madness video games. The state of California saw two lawsuits combine into one. The Keller v Electronic arts Incorporated and O’Bannon v NCAA combined to form the lawsuit In re NCAA Student-Athlete Name & Likeness Licensing Litigation. Both cases see the plaintiffs accusing EA over their rights to publicity due to EA’s use of their likenesses as well as images in producing the NCAA video games. In late 2013, the plaintiffs and EA/the CLC settled for $40 million (terms of the settlement are supposedly confidential). EA used the defense that the First Amendment and four theories protected it. The four theories were: California’s transformative use test, the Rogers test, public interest test, and public affairs exemption. The court denied EA’s defense, and after applying the transformative use test, found EA did not fulfill necessary requirements to have protection.
In a separate but similar case, Hart v. Electronic Arts, Inc., Ryan Hart filed a lawsuit against the NCAA, CLC and EA stating his right to publicity was violated by EA for using his likeness in the NCAA Football videogame. EA tried to dismiss the case stating that they were protected by the First Amendment. This was reversed by the U.S. Court of Appeals. This case had the same test applied as the In re NCAA Student-Athlete Name & Likeness Licensing Litigation. Similar conclusions were drawn in the Hart case, approximately two months before the In re NCAA Student-Athlete Name & Likeness Licensing Litigation case. In the Hart case, in using the transformative use test, the court focused on individual athletes in the game. The biographical information combined with the likeness of an individual athlete was deemed a recreation in the game.
Facts about NCAA student athletes
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- There are about 480,000 NCAA student athletes.
- 56% of all Division 1 student athletes and 61% of all Division 2 student athletes receive some level of athletic scholarship. Division 3 student athletes cannot receive athletic scholarships. Decisions about who receives an athletic scholarship and the size of each scholarship are usually left up to the coach. Athletes can receive multiyear scholarships but a coach can reduce or withdraw a scholarship fully for the next year if the change is submitted to the athlete in writing by July 1 of the preceding summer.
- NCAA by-law 126.96.36.199 sets a 20-hour-per-week limit on time spent on athletics for Division I athletes; however, a 2006 University of Nebraska study reported "coaches do not follow the rules of hours of week for practicing". Most student athletes would argue that they put more than 20 hours in a week.
- In the same study, 60% of the student-athletes surveyed reported they view themselves "more as athletes than students". and the study also reports, "many individuals with whom student-athletes come in contact with view them more as athletes than as students".
- The commissioners for the Big 10, Big 12, SEC, and Conference USA have decided that paying college athletes is a subject worth examining.
- College baseball players are more likely to go pro than any other collegiate sport. About 10.5% will go from college baseball straight to pro. However, this percentage cannot be directly compared to those for other college sports. Baseball has a far more extensive system of minor professional leagues than the other major U.S. professional sports.
- Graduation rates are lower for college athletes, than non-athletes. Out of the 65 teams that played in March Madness 2005, 43 of them would have not qualified if there was a 50% graduation rate required.
Longest-running annual international sporting event
Every year, the United States Military Academy (Army) Black Knights face the Royal Military College of Canada (RMC) Paladins in the annual West Point Weekend ice hockey game. This series, conceived in 1923, is claimed as the longest-running uninterrupted annual international intercollegiate sporting event in the world.
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