Sports | October 16, 2017 1:18 pm

Should the NCAA Be Paying Its Players?

Columnist Joe Nocera weighs in on college sports' most contentious issue.

With NCAA scandals involving Adidas and the University of North Carolina swirling, it’s once again raised the question of whether students should be receiving a cut of the giant, end-of-the-rainbow pot of gold colleges and universities make off of athletics programs.

To further avoid that question, the NCAA announced last week the formation of a committee—headed up by former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice—that would move to fix college athletics, cleaning up how it does business and trying to weed out fraud before it occurs.

But Bloomberg‘s Joe Nocera believes that the true elephant in the room, which would solve all of the above, is paying student-athletes. In a sense, making them all employees of the NCAA. “The crux of the issue is that college sports is a big business,” writes Nocera. (It hauls in an estimated $13 billion, which is on par with what the NFL made last year.) “Coaches need good players so they can hold onto their $3 million paychecks. Shoe companies need good players to go to “their” universities. Agents need to land good players to earn commissions on the contracts they negotiate once the player turns pro,” he continues.

The solution? Rather than forming commissions to further tighten NCAA rules, loosen them. That means allowing college athletes to hire agents, accept endorsement deals, and above all writes Nocera, “realize their fair market value while they’re in school, just like anyone else.”