Democratic presidential hopeful Andrew Yang released his newest policy proposal to force the NCAA to pay athletes. He tweeted:
Instead of putting arbitrary requirements on agents, the NCAA should pay Division I athletes who generate millions in revenue for their schools. Coaches and athletics directors make millions while the kids pretend to be amateurs and scrounge for meal money.
Yang has completely missed the fact that these college players are already getting paid. It’s not in the form of a paycheck, it’s in the form of free tuition and other benefits.
Until this past May, I attended Michigan State University, a school that bleeds college sports. Our programs have pumped out excellent players like Kirk Cousins, who plays for the Minnesota Vikings, and Miles Bridges, who is dominating basketball for the Charlotte Hornets.
MSU is a very expensive school, especially for out-of-state students. For out-of-state students it costs approximately $52,000 in first-year tuition, fees, room and board, etc. Yet these athletes get access to this entire university for free.
Over the course of four years, these students athletes are getting a $200,000, world-class education, a plethora of gear, access to personalized tutoring, and an entire student-athlete facility. These benefits aren’t just for NCAA basketball and football players, either. Any student athlete has access to these facilities and benefits.
If I were able to pursue my passion for sports while obtaining a free degree and gaining access to exclusive athlete-only perks, I don’t think I would be complaining.
These universities are seldom taking advantage of NCAA athletes. They are typically fostering an environment where student athletes can thrive academically, socially, and athletically. If they aren’t, well isn’t that the joy of the free market? Whichever NCAA programs lack sufficient programs and benefits for students will lose out in recruited students to those universities and programs that do foster the proper environment for their athletes.
At MSU, just three buildings away from the luxurious student athlete facilities, there are freshman dorms filled with asbestos that offer drinking water that tastes like rust. When I was a freshman, the water in one of the dorms came out yellow. Let that sink in. While NCAA athletes were getting personalized training and tutoring, students three buildings down were drinking yellow water.
Students pay astronomical amounts for mandatory on-campus living, only to be able to drink and shower in yellow water? Forgive me if I think a portion of the revenue generated from college sports should be funneled back into the university to fix these essential problems, instead of paying the salary of an 18-year-old who is attending the university for free to play a sport he is incredibly passionate about and could lead to a massively profitable career.
Even if you fundamentally disagree, why in the world would this be a federally mandated policy? The government should not be able to dictate the financial decisions made by non-profit organizations. While I believe Yang’s proposal comes from compassion, as a presidential candidate he should focus on real policy proposals that affect a larger population of Americans instead of suggesting government dictate the financials of the NCAA.