FILE - In this Nov. 10, 2012 file photo, Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel (2) celebrates after a review proves an Aggie touchdown during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Ala. ESPN says the NCAA is investigating whether Manziel was paid for signing hundreds of autographs in January. Citing unidentified sources, ESPN's "Outside the Lines" said the Heisman Trophy winner signed items in exchange for a five-figure fee during his trip to Miami for the BCS championship game. (AP Photo/The Decatur Daily, Gary Cosby Jr., File) (Gary Cosby Jr./AP)
First, let's all take a step back and a deep breath, and dive into reality.
The cost of a college tuition is a growing epidemic in this country, and eventually those rising costs will price out the majority of families.
The elite of the elite that make it to an Ivy League school? In 20 years, it could be the same at your state universities. It's no secret a school such as Ohio State has increased its acceptance standards over the years, mostly because so many want to attend the university.
Those who attended Ohio State back in the day (i.e. myself in the late 1980s, early 1990s) might not recognize it if he or she hasn't been back in a while. Renovations, new buildings — you name it — have not only made it a school with more resources, but one that costs more to attend.
Which brings us to college football, the sport which keeps on giving to many of these super-sized universities in the form of millions of dollars. The players, many pundits have argued, are not being fairly treated and should be paid above their athletic scholarships.
OK, let's get into this:
The biggest problem I have with those who say colleges should pay its football players is, do they realize what a college scholarship is worth these days? According to Ohio State website, tuition for an Ohio resident for tuition and housing is $20,810 each year. For non-residents of Ohio (the Buckeyes have 37 out-of-state players on its football roster), tuition and housing is $36,526. Do the math over four or five years. At private institutions, the cost of college tuition is considerably higher. Families all over the country are struggling to find a way — financially — to send their kids to college. A full-ride scholarship to play big-time college football shouldn't be thought of lightly. Aside from the scholarship, there's also the access to million-dollar training facilities, tutors, tickets to games for family members, free garb and, in many cases, the platform to perform in front of thousands and on national TV. In essence, an athletic scholarship is a lottery ticket worth, in some cases, six figures.
My argument against colleges paying football players: How many are really worthy of being paid above their athletic scholarship? And how much? Should Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel receive more than his backup? Or the third-string QB? The percentage of players worthy — mostly because of their popularity — is so small it would create headaches down the road paying the lot of them.
There's also this factor: If football players at UConn get paid, what about the women's basketball players there? Or the hockey players at Boston College? Or the baseball players at Vanderbilt? Or the wrestlers at Iowa? Or the men's lacrosse players at Syracuse? Pay the football players at those schools and not the sports mentioned, plus many more and expect many of these: Lawsuits.
A few solutions:
The schools and the NCAA need to stop selling jerseys, T-shirts, video games or anything with players' likeness. ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas went to Twitter last week and embarrassed many schools and the NCAA when he showed examples on the NCAA's website — ShopNCAASports.com — how player-specific apparel can be accessed by typing in names such as Manziel, South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney and Alabama's A.J. McCarron. Bilas, who has more than 555,000 Twitter followers, made an impact. Last week, ShopNCAASports.com was shut down and the NCAA announced it will no longer sell college or university merchandise, and only NCAA championship merchandise. Now for the matter of Ohio State, Michigan, Notre Dame, Alabama, USC, Texas and the like. We shall see.
Schools need to stop its coaches from making college football (I'm not sure about others) a sport that consumes its players for most of the year. Allow players to work in the offseason. Allow notable players such as Manziel, Ohio State's Braxton Miller and others to gauge their open-market value for memorabilia signings, public appearances, etc., and don't let the schools or NCAA be involved.