PULLMAN – For student-athletes like WSU women’s soccer player Kelis Barton, the discussion around compensation is less about what the university is providing and more about the interests that the athletes are restricted from.
“I have no time to have a real full-time job and to make money that way whereas there are different side hobbies and small businesses that I would like to put more time into and get compensation back for that but being an NCAA student-athlete prevents a lot of us from doing certain things like that.” Said Barton.
When it comes to college sports there’s no bigger moneymaker than march madness. In 2019, the NCAA raked in one point one billion dollars in revenue with most of the money coming from the men’s basketball tournament in the form of tv rights and ticket sales. The revenue is doled out to conferences and universities but none of the money goes to the players due to current NCAA regulations. Although in recent years, some states have enacted laws, such as the Fair Pay to Play Act, that allows student-athletes to profit from third-party deals even those new changes have unearthed new discussions related to compensation.
However, for people like NCAA insider Laine Higgins, the notion of compensation could mean that the balance of competition in amateur sports will be severely hindered or broken.
“If athletes are allowed to make money, the most talented athletes will go to the schools with the deepest pockets. and that will forever tilt the competitive balance in sports towards the schools that are the wealthiest.” Explained Higgins.
While Barton concedes that the issue of how to fairly compensate student-athletes would likely require a set of guidelines, she feels that there are more effective ways to receive payments than from the universities. Barton also says that while she remains undeniably grateful for the scholarship, there’s a false assumption by the audience who think all sports get the same luxuries and benefits.
“We don’t; soccer doesn’t get dinner. we don’t get dinner paid for. only you know football, basketball, volleyball and like tennis and like the headcount sports get their dinner paid for,” said Barton. “I think there should be more representation from ourselves and our actual name rights and image rights and more external sources and opportunities that come our way.”
Sports are defined by the idea of winning at all costs. and as the landscape of college sports continues to change, the question of what those costs are and who they get paid to; will remain.