Should College Athletes Be Paid? (Pros & Cons)

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Should College Athletes Be Paid? Let’s find out!

Sports culture throughout your college days is something you will never forget. It’s so much fun to support your college sports teams with unwavering loyalty.

If you look at the sports environment at your school, you might wonder why college athletes are not really compensated similarly to professional athletes. 

Colleges are not permitted to pay student-athletes to participate in sports, according to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), but there is an ongoing debate about this.

If so, should they be compensated for their abilities? Let’s talk more about this.

The Role Of College Athletics

To understand whether college athletes should get paid or not, it is necessary to comprehend college athletes and the role of college athletics. 

College sports are very popular in the USA. Various championships are organized to connect the different colleges with each other. These championships are based on multiple sports disciplines. 

Should College Athletes Be Paid - Overview

Student-athletes of the university participate in these competitive athletic programs. They represent the college during these competitions and games.

Reasons Why College Athletes Should Get Paid

Many college athletes request a sizeable portion of the money they contribute to the economy, taking into account the specifics of the college athlete compensation system.

Despite the fact that some athletes receive athletic scholarships, some athletes insist on being paid for the athletic support they give to the school.

Here are a few arguments in favor of paying college athletes.

1. Paid college athletes may commit to their school for a longer time:

After receiving their degree or a professional offer to get paid, many athletes leave school. Numerous of them never come back to complete their education.

By offering paid athletics, colleges can entice students to stay and finish their degrees.

Paying for their college tuition can also lessen the financial strain on their families. Additionally, it enables athletes to represent the college for a longer period of time. Furthermore, it might help them develop leadership skills in sports and aid teachers in instructing other students.

2. To get valuable exposure to the school:

Student athletes’ exposure to the public can increase enrollment and donations. It has been observed that a football team’s performance improved in many games when they were compensated for their athleticism.

3. Paying athletics can reduce extra work to earn money:

Although student scholarships cover the athlete’s academic costs, they cannot pay for all of the additional costs that arise.

Athletes who are paid can earn some money and use it to cover the extra expenses associated with their academic pursuits.

4. A greater stake for students can make sports more competitive:

When athletes are paid, they eventually start to play their sports better. Students might be inspired to perform at a higher level.

Students will be more motivated to work harder to improve and maintain their ranking if they earn well. Additionally, students will experience less financial stress, allowing them to concentrate more on the games without worrying about their finances.

Reasons Why College Athletes Should Not Get Paid

There are also some cons that providing a paid atheleticship may cause negative effects.

1. They already have full scholarships:

The premise that student-athletes already receive full college scholarships forms the basis of one of the main arguments against paying student-athletes. Many claims that giving scholarships in addition to receiving compensation helps and benefits them more.

However, as we already covered, this is rarely the case. Only 2% to 3% of students receive athletic scholarships.

2. Secondary Sports Would Suffer:

Only 25 of the approximately 1,100 sports governed by the NCAA had net positive revenue in 2019.

Universities might end minor sports to pay athletes who play in major sports, which is a likely scenario. Thus, a small number of athletes would profit financially, but a larger number of students would see their opportunities to participate in athletics disappear.

3. Determining Salaries Could Get Messy:

Who receives compensation, and how much? At best, the economics of a paid-athlete system is confusing. At worst, it’s a mess and jeopardizes the spirit of the team. Must all athletes be compensated?

What about just basketball and football players? What determines the appropriate wage for each player? Is the backup left guard as valuable as the starting quarterback? Will the coach decide on these things? What if the team includes the coach’s son?

This scenario presents far too many difficult questions and far too few complete solutions.

4. Student-Athletes Are Not Professionals:

Despite some becoming professionals, college athletes do not compete at the professional level. 

Student-athletes being paid is equivalent to professional athletes being paid for their work. Although they are not professionals, college athletes are a level above amateur athletes. While it is true that student-athletes bring in money for their colleges, not all of them have the resources to pay each athlete. 

Professional athletes undergo more intense training and have extensive experience. Before they are paid for their profession, it may take years.

How Do Student-Athlete Scholarships Work?

The main source of income for student-athletes is a scholarship that covers all or a portion of their tuition and other university-related costs. Loans, Grants, and merit aid are additional financial aid options available to student-athletes.


Due to the fact that recipients are not required to pay them back, grants are also known as “gift aid”.

Based on a student’s financial requirements, grants are given out. The United States Department of Education offers four different kinds of grants: 

  • Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants.
  • Federal Pell Grants.
  • Teacher Education Assistance for College or Higher Education (TEACH) Grants.
  • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants.


Loans are available from both public and private banks to pay for educational costs. After graduating or leaving school, students are required to repay their loans in full, including interest. 

According to, college graduates had an average student loan debt of $37,693 as of 2020.

Merit Aid:

Based on the student’s accomplishments in the classroom, on the field, in the arts, and elsewhere, merit aid is given. 

Athletic scholarships are a type of merit-based aid, usually covering one academic year at a time, and are renewable each year, while some are awarded for up to four years.

Facts About College Athletics

Let’s now discuss some facts about college athletic scholarships.

  • In 2020, there were a total of 504,620 student-athletes in the NCAA.
  • NCAA generated $18.9 billion in revenue in the year 2021.
  • There is a $307 billion estimated value of athletics scholarships granted by NCAA schools annually.
  • As per the data for 2022, 2,81,699 athletes are male, and 2,22,920 athletes are female.
  • According to, in the year 2019-2020, colleges in the USA awarded more than $4 billion in athletic scholarships.
  • Fewer than 2% of student-athletes go on to be professional athletes.
  • The most recent information available indicates that the estimated injury rate per 1,000 athlete exposures is 6% on average.
  • 28 states have passed laws allowing college athletes to be paid as of 2022.

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Bottom Line: Should College Athletes Be Paid

Here we are with the different opinions on should college athletes be paid.

Student-athletes are an essential component of any university. Being a college student-athlete can occasionally make you feel like a celebrity if you attend a larger university. Keep in mind that you are attending college to pursue your education, not to participate in sports.

Although receiving compensation for your participation in college sports would be a nice perk, it might not be in the institution’s best interests. To get more money for college, you can apply for scholarships other than your athletic one or take out student loans if you need to.

Getting paid to play college sports can be challenging because each college’s athletic department is unique.

College sports would become more politicized if they were paid. More regulations would need to be followed, and you would have to deal with endorsement contracts, which would cut into your study time.

Before you sign a professional contract, enjoy your time playing college sports!

Lana Rose

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