Sports opinion: Committed athletes weigh in on NCAA compensation case

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By Brooke Kennedy, Staff Reporter

The Supreme Court agreed on Dec. 16, 2020 to review a decision about whether the NCAA violated federal antitrust laws by not allowing colleges to compensate their athletes. 

In May 2020, The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that the NCAA could not limit education-related benefits — special equipment, privileges and more — that college athletes receive from their school. Committed athletes at ’Stoga think college students who focus time and energy on their sport are not getting the privileges they deserve.

“I definitely am with the students (in this case). Education-related benefits should not be sacrificed for playing your sport, and all of the opportunities as an athlete should be presented to you,” senior Emma Adams, a squash player committed to Vassar College, said.

The NCAA took the case to the higher court after a lower court ruled the NCAA could not cap athletes’ education-related compensation and benefits for football and basketball programs. Junior Peter Detwiler, a lacrosse player committed to Marquette University, thinks this decision is a good start but wants to see all sports compensated.

“In the beginning, I would say it is okay for only some sports to get paid, but after it gets going, it is only fair to pay all sports to keep equal interest,” Detwiler said.

College athletes say they are less inclined to continue playing their sport without compensation since they dedicate much effort into their sports teams. Senior softball player Kate Clement, who committed to Franklin & Marshall College, believes that colleges should be able to support the athletes that can bring in millions of dollars for their school.

“If the school is able to make money off of the student-athletes, then they should be supported in the same way because being an athlete is a huge commitment, and, during that time, they could be getting a job or focusing more on education, but instead they are putting it towards being an athlete and helping the school,” Clement said. 

Not only do athletes not receive compensation, but the NCAA previously prohibited college athletes from accepting payment from a third-party source for their name, image and likeness. The NCAA is in the process of changing this rule, which opens opportunities for athletes to be paid for sponsorships, product promotions and endorsements. Student-athletes are excited about this case because their chance for compensation is close.

“In general, I think the case is very interesting, and I think it is very cool that the possibility for college athletes getting paid is becoming more of a reality when no one thought it could be done,” Detwiler said.

Still, the NCAA stated that they don’t want colleges to pay athletes directly because it blurs the lines between college and professional sports by increasing competition. Since the college athletes would make an income off their sport, the NCAA states that students attend school for an education, not employment. Adams, however, believes that athletes that attend athletics-focused schools should be paid.

“I am not going to be paid, and my school puts a very big emphasis on that ‘you are more part student than athlete,’ but for a lot of other schools, it probably feels strange because a student-athlete’s whole college experience is that they are on their team,” Adams said. 

Detwiler believes that even if athletes are compensated in the future, money should not be a major factor in their decision to play a sport.

“Compensation shouldn’t be a big factor because that could end with players being influenced to schools strictly off of how much money they get and not off what the school has to offer and their future after college,” Detwiler said. 

For now, Adams thinks that student’s feelings and their situation should be brought into consideration for a solution.

“I think that the students should come first and that they should be really thinking about how the students feel and how their situation affects them in college because you want to have the best experience that you can have, especially if you’re an athlete,” Adams said.