The recent scandal at the Ohio State University, where several football players received multiple game suspensions for next year (nothing should ever affect an imminent bowl game) for selling awards, rings, jerseys, and other memorabilia and getting free tattoos, shows us, once and for all, that players in college need cash stipends.
Sure, they get free books, tuition, room, board, medical care, tutoring, physical therapy, massages, cable TV, Internet access, etc., but they do not get any actual cash payments, despite the fact that they are earning millions of dollars for their schools. Many of these players have families who are facing hard times and need money – lots of money. So, it is no wonder players are tempted to sell gifts and awards – they need the money to send home to their families for heating oil, groceries, and the like. Also, they can’t afford to pay for the necessary tattoos (have you seen any player without them?) after sending their money home to the families, so these must also be subsidized.
Here is what must be done. Effective for the 2011 season, all NCAA athletes should receive monthly stipends of $7,500 throughout their college career and a tattoo allowance of $2,500 per year, as long as they participate in the school’s athletic program. If they are removed from the team for misconduct, for example, the stipends would be discontinued. This way, all temptation is removed for any of these fine athletes to do anything untoward regarding the acquisition of cash. These stipends would be in the form of direct deposit to a Visa debit card (with points) to insure that the payments went directly to the athlete.
I know some will say this is wrong, but it is not wrong to pay someone who brings in literally millions of dollars to the school coffers. The head coach at almost any NCAA college makes more than the President of the United States – so why are the athletes not given a dime? It is simply wrong.
This modest stipend would not be enough to hurt anyone or allow any player to go Hollywood on us, but it would certainly help with family bills, weekend spending money, clothing, or other needs.
There are many in the NCAA who have long supported paying college athletes. This sad tale of distress and anguish, where the athletes were forced to sell their very possessions to feed their families, is the tipping point.
Let the stipends begin and we can ring in 2011 with hope and security for the thousands upon thousands of unpaid hero athletes at colleges and universities across this great land.