Pay for Play — Would A Work Study Program solve College Athletics?


Over the past few years a topic about whether or not to pay college athletes has gained a lot of steam. To the point in fact, that the University of Northwestern football team even has gone to court, to be allowed  to form a players union. The debate has a lot of varying opinions and rightfully so. This debate only can possibly change the landscape of college football. The positive’s of course is the players can now bring in some money. The drawback of course, is if there is no regulation, the phrase “the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer”, will take on a whole new meaning.

Prior to beginning the research on this article, I asked for the help from you, our great readers to offer up some of opinions:

I also took to facebook:

"Keith S.- They should get a stipend so they can enjoy college and playing sports. They give their bodies for schools to make millions. Sure they get an excellent education but they have to have a life also.Angie G.– If they are getting their college paid for, they are getting paid thousands."

Strong opinions going towards they get paid enough from the sampling I took. The amount of opinions on this topic is staggering to say the least, and certainly all over the spectrum.

I often times have time to think, during my commute’s to work. I drive a 40 minutes to a facility to work with my patients. My previous job I worked in the home health field traveling a ton of miles. So I had an awful lot of time to think about things, from solving life’s problems, or less deep, what my fat ass wanted to eat for dinner that night. Nothings changed really other than I drive less.

However, it was during one of those drives on a fateful night, that the idea hit me. Compromise. It makes marriages work, its supposed to make government work, (but we have all seen how that worked out so far the past few years). It brings enemies together. Its just a good strong solid word. The compromise I have come up with in this particular case: Liquidate a small portion of the athletic scholarship funds, and turn college athletics into a work study program. The frame work is already there.

The current guidelines for the federal work study program. The rules are that students in a work study program, as stated on the University of Colorado State website, are not allowed to exceed 20 hours per week on average. When I went to college, I was not allowed to work more than 20 hours per week. You look at the NCAA rules regarding athletes, something interesting stands out. As posted on the University of Notre Dame website, to be in compliance with the practice hours, a university is only allowed to hold 20 hours of practice per week during the regular season.

During shorter semesters, such as the summer, work study hours are lowered. Like wise, so are practice hours during the off-season. There is no reason that part of the scholarship funds for all athletes couldn’t be allocated to achieve student athletes from potential earning a wage. Lets not kid ourselves, scholarships are worth a lot. At this point in the article, you might be thinking; “20 hours of practice is paid, what about actual game time?”

There is away around that as well. One solution, is to lower the practice time from 20 hours to 16, utilizing four of the 20 total hours weekly towards actual game time. Another solution that I give credit to one of my friends as I was discussing this. National Exposure that the average student doesn’t get, should be factored in the equation. Drawbacks to those idea’s, do you pay a player who plays a sport with multiple innings or over time, overtime? Do you treat the 20 hours a week as a salary in that case? I personally would not opposed to treating the 20 hours as a salary. National exposure, isn’t the same for a player like Eric Striker, as say a competitor on the rowing team. No offense intended to the Oklahoma Sooners rowing team.

Like I said above, this was just an idea, and approach that I have not yet seen in any media. TO ME this idea seems like a step towards a good compromise. The universities are not really out any more money, they simply liquidate a small percentage of athletic scholarships. Since the student athlete does compete and make money for their respective university in multiple sports. The fear of certain colleges becoming more powerful, and monopolizing certain sports, doesn’t happen as you are following federal guidelines. And of course, you avoid the Title IX implications, because female and male athletes are paid the same and given the same hours. And finally, the Student Athlete, wont make anymore than the Non Athlete Student. That will help to make it as fair as possible across the student body.

This debate will continue to go on until most likely players start getting paid I would imagine. Ultimately, I feel like that eventually, college athletes will start getting a paycheck. Having been in the work study situation myself, I feel this might be a good way to go once we get ready to cross that bridge.