Debate on paying college athletes touches Lion Athletics

Trying to argue that college athletes should be paid for their athletic abilities, on top of already having a free academic ride, would be futile according to the Big Ten Conference Commissioner Jim Delany. Delany suggests the athlete looks for play elsewhere, hires an agent and moves to the professional league if they want to receive extra compensation for their athletic ability and performance.
“They can get as strong and fast in that environment as they can in this environment,” Delany said to USA TODAY Sports at a NCAA press conference in September. “Plus they don’t have to go to school. They can sell their likeness and do whatever they want to do. We don’t want to do that. We want to do what we’ve been doing for 100 years.”
Now, after all these years, the National College Players Association has proposed Senate Bill 1525 under California State Law. SB 1525 that would require all California colleges and universities to pay student-athletes for any injuries, or differences in scholarships, through their revenue. This revenue is not paid for through tuition fees or taxpayer dollars. The Pacific 12 colleges include University of California at Berkley, University of Southern California and Stanford, among others, that rake in more than $5 million in television and merchandise revenue a year. Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Los Angeles, said to Don Thompson of the Huffington Post, “With this bill, California is leading by example.”
Whether or not it will flow to other states is a mystery. Southeastern has been following the NCAA guidelines for as long as they have been in the Southland Conference and Division I of NCAA. The 2012-2013 NCAA Division I Manual states an amateur “student-athlete may receive scholarships or education grant-in-aid administered by an education institution” that does not conflict with the NCAA regulations. They may not accept benefits, or pay, from anybody affiliated with athletics or the booster club. Once a student-athlete accepts pay, or a benefit, they lose their amateur status. It is only acceptable if the entire student body is entitled to the same reward.
“Receipt of a benefit by student-athletes or their family members or friends is not a violation of NCAA legislation if it is demonstrated that the same benefit is generally available to the institution’s students or their family members or friends,” this according to the Division I Manual, article 16.02.3.
John Long, the assistant to the president for athletic compliance for Southeastern’s Athletics Administration, makes sure the university follows all of NCAA’s regulations on this issue and says if a student were to accept pay, that student would have an appeal process to keep their scholarship or financial-aid agreement.
“Student-athletes are afforded with an appeal process if the student’s coach wishes to terminate their financial-aid agreement,” Long said. “For a scholarship to be reduced or terminated during the term of the award a student-athlete must fall into [certain] categories, otherwise their scholarship cannot be taken away.”
Occurrences include rendering oneself ineligible, serious misconduct as determined by the university’s authority, fraudulent misrepresentation or violation of athletic department procedures.
Collegiate athletics are there for the betterment of a university, and Southeastern Athletics’ mission is to promote academic and competitive excellence through their athletic programs. Though the athletics department does not rake in anywhere near as much money as state schools and the Pac-12 colleges in California where the SB 1525 was passed, Long says it is highly unlikely it will be made into national law, and if it did happen, many student-athletes may end up looking for competition in another place if they accepted the package. The NCAA can still prohibit them not playing in the conference.
“The NCAA is a private association, so their rules would still stand,” Long said. “Even if a student-athlete could qualify for a particular scholarship or aid package by law, the NCAA still has the right to say that the student-athlete would not be eligible to participate in NCAA athletics if they accept it. The NCAA cannot stop a student-athlete from accepting something that they have a legal right to, but they can stop the student-athlete from participating in their sanctioned athletics programs.”
If it did, then Southeastern’s athletes would not benefit from it. Southeastern-student athlete scholarships are funded out of the athletics’ budget, and occasionally a NCAA special assistance fund for summer school, and this law would cost the department an extra $1 million a year.