Paying College Athletes

FILE - In this April 19, 2019, file photo, an athlete stands near a NCAA logo during a softball game in Beaumont, Texas. California will let college athletes hire agents and make money from endorsements, defying the NCAA and setting up a likely legal challenge that could reshape U.S. amateur sports. (AP Photo/Aaron M. Sprecher, File)

The University’s renowned head football coach, Ed Orgeron, bagged a six-year deal worth $42 million. Some were surprised at the extravagant deal, but Orgeron’s contribution to the University’s football program warrants an increase in salary.

Orgeron offered valuable coaching, which led us to a 15-0 victory this year, but he didn’t do it alone. A team of collegiate athletes rose to football stardom together. The football players deserve to be compensated, in one way or another, just as Coach O has earned a salary increase.

Neither Orgeron nor the university is to blame for the players’ lack of income. The NCAA has constructed a system designed to make money on the backs of athletes, especially black athletes.

Race should not have to be a component in the conversation of collegiate athlete compensation, but the University recruits black men to play a sport that makes their white coaches hundreds of thousands of dollars. Black athletes get recognition, but recognition won’t pay. This is reminiscent of an ongoing societal issue we have of white men becoming extremely wealthy from black labor.

As a society, many of the athletes we revere are black. We hold them to a high standard, often following their careers, starting from high school. Yet, there is an economic division between the black athletes and the white coaches who guide them.

Black men have historically earned less money than white men for the same job. Black men earn $0.87 to every dollar a white man earns, according to payscale.com.

For instance, Mickey Joseph, the wide receiver’s coach who happens to be black, has the lowest salary of all the coaches.

Black men are stereotypically more athletic than non-black men. This leads to University’s interest in recruiting black men specifically, often giving them life-changing opportunities. However, their talents are still exploited for the benefit of Uncle Sam.

Athletes deserve compensation regardless of race. But when the football teams of predominantly white universities comprise of a large number of black athletes, it’s not a coincidence. I always see black men near the PMAC and Cox Communication Center, but never on Frat Row. I wonder why.

There is a common misconception that football players receive full scholarships. That false notion is circulating on this campus. But this isn’t the case. Many college athletes do not have full scholarships. According to the NCAA, only 2% of high school athletes are awarded athletic scholarships.

Many of the athletes have to take out loans and work side jobs like the non-athlete students. They are students at a university that is receiving less state funding every year. The only people on campus seeing any major funds are the football coaches.

Additionally, only 2% of college football players make it to the NFL, according to the NCAA. Many people who think the athletes shouldn’t be paid believe all the football players will go on to be multimillionaires. Sadly, this could not be further from the truth.

Everyone deserves fair compensation for the hard work they put in. It is not morally sound for the coaches to make millions of dollars on the backs of men who hardly have the chance to make decent salaries because of their race.

I applaud everyone involved with the University’s football organization on having such a great season. The issue of the NCAA’s decision to generate revenue that isn’t distributed to the players is wrong. It reinforces a racial wage gap that continues to divide us.

Erin Stephens is a 19-year-old journalism sophomore from Brusly, Louisiana.

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