Let's Pay College Athletes

         The NBA has seen many different players come and go throughout its 50 years of existence. In the last 15 years, there has been a boom of underclassmen leaving college early to enter the NBA draft. The last NBA draft in June, the top ten picks alone were underclassmen(Sports Illustrated, 264). Many more underclassmen are entering the NBA this year. The typical college career for the basketball players is playing until your junior year, then going pro. The NBA and the NCAA must do something in order to keep these young players in college.
         Already this year, many college basketball players are entering the draft early. Earlier this year, Maurice Taylor from Michigan, has already said that he will go pro(USA Today, 2). Junior forward Gordon Malone, from West Virginia, has announced that he too will leave college early for life in the NBA(USA Today, 2).
         Lamar Odom, had trouble to decide over UNLV, Kentucky, Connecticut or the NBA. He chose college, deciding on UNLV. But how long will he stay there for, knowing he can skip all this work, and make millions(USA Today, 6). Sophomore guard Chauncey Billups is leaving Colorado(USA Today, 2). God Shammgod has decided to stay at Providence. Maybe he realized that staying in college for two more years is better than jumping pro(USA Today, 9).
         North Carolina coach Dean Smith is considered the greatest college basketball coach of all time with 877 wins, the most ever. He has coached great teams with great players such as Sam Perkins, James Worthy, and Michael Jordan. Last year Dean Smith would have had one of the greatest teams in college basketball history. Guard Jerry Stackhouse could have lead the nation in scoring. Forward Rahseed Wallace could have lead the country in shot-blocking and rebounds. Jeff McInnis could have lead the country in 3 point field goal percentage. But they didn’t. They didn’t even win the nation championship.
         Instead, Jerry Stackhouse went on to make millions of dollars at the age of 20. He played his rookie season with the Philadelphia 76ers. His team came in last place, and received no glory. Jerry Stackhouse doesn’t have the hype that he had when he came out of college now. Rahseed Wallace decided North Carolina and college basketball was too easy also. After his sophomore year, he went pro. He was drafted by Washington, made millions, rode the bench, was injured, then traded to Portland, and finally forgotten about, all within two years of leaving college. Jeff McInnis was basically forgotten about during the NBA draft, getting drafted by Denver at the 37th pick. He got injured in training camp, then cut a few weeks later.
         All these players left college early to try their success in the NBA. None of them had much luck. They could have been superstars in college winning the national championship, but they all went running for the money. The only way to keep these athletes in college is to pay them.
         Underclassmen are leaving the NCAA early to pursue fame and fortune in the NBA. They want fame, money, and glamour that comes with life in the NBA. When you break down college athletics, everyone gets paid but the players. Mike Lupica writes, “College basketball has been using these kids for years, allowing itself to be fabulously lucrative form of basketball minor league, telling itself the whole time how valuable basketball scholarship is for these fine young scholar-athletes. What a fine trade-off that is for everybody”(Lupica, 149).
         Lupica then writes, “College players are better off being in a college setting, even for a little while, than if they never go at all. Half an education, in this case, being better than no education. So pay them to go to psych class”(Lupica, 149). These young players coming out early and making millions of dollars at such a young age is dangerous in a way. Kids playing pro basketball are exposed to such a different lifestyle. They can spend it on drugs, women, fast cars, anything. Its all a party atmosphere. They are on cloud- nine.
         The NBA should create a minor league like baseball and hockey, for players that have no desire to go to college. Kevin Garnett, a high senior, entered the NBA draft right out of high school. He didn’t have the grades to get into college, so he thought that going to the NBA was the next best thing. Colleges should help out kids like Kevin Garnett so he doesn’t make a mistake by going pro too early. The Colleges should make the decision if they think the student can keep up with other students, then they should get a chance to go to college.
         If players decide to go to the minor league basketball, and not college, they should learn a trade. America would be nowhere with mechanics, hairdressers, and plumbers. This way, if the NBA doesn’t work out, they will still be able to find work.
         If you pay them to stay in college, they will get an education. A condition to being paid is, they have to stay all four years, and maintain their eligibility. They have to go to class, which means they will receive an education. All these players think about is money. With them going to college, maybe they will understand that money isn’t everything.
         Glen Robinson left Purdue University early to go to the pros, and after being drafted, he asks for a $100 million contract. Lupica says, “So these kids look at it this way: Even if I have to sit on the bench for two years, even three years, I’m still making a million a year, or two million, or three at a time when I would be looking over the shoulder in college every time somebody wants to give me a free meal”(Lupica, 149-49).
         Nike endorses many college basketball programs, including the top three, Kentucky, Michigan, and North Carolina. They pay millions of dollars to the universities and the coaches. Why not the players? Aren’t they the ones who are out there playing the game, bringing the fans, who brings the money, which goes to the university? The university is getting rich, and they players aren’t? Paying college athletes may not be the greatest solution, but it is the only solution.
         Install a salary cap in college basketball. Each school is allowed $1 million to spend on it’s players. All the players, not a million to each. The high school basketball players get to pick and choose which university is going to offer them the most money. Lupica comments on this idea, “If we do institute a salary cap like this, schools will be finding ways around it in about fifteen minutes, the players will be talking about striking, the fans of college sports will be saying they’re mad as hell, and before long, some seven- foot seventh grader will have his own sneaker line”(Lupica, 151).
         Dick Vitale, a former college basketball coach, and now an analyst with ESPN has agreed with paying college basketball players. Dick Vitale preaches academics, and wants kids to stay in college all four years. He has an idea that would help out college basketball players get adjusted to college life and help receive their education. Vitale suggests, “I’m a big believer in making all freshman ineligible and giving them five years to play four. Put them in a situation where they can grow, go to class, play on a freshman team against local community colleges, and then step up. That would take away some of the stigma”(Vitale, 174).
         NCAA rules prohibits scholarship players to have jobs during the season. Majority of college basketball players come from poor backgrounds. Most of their families have one parent around, working two jobs and trying to raise six children. These kids don’t have any role models, or anyone to be there when they need help with their homework. “A kid from an impoverished background doesn’t have parents who can afford to write an $800 check for the Princeton Review course or pay a tutor $50 an hour so he can improve his test scores”(Vitale, 175).
         This is the way the NCAA should pay their players. They bring in so much to the universities, and they never get to see a dime. Most of these kids say that they want to get a degree and they promise that they will return to college in a few years to receive it. But after they get a few checks from the NBA, and they see how much money they are making, going back to college and enrolling in English is kind of difficult.
         Dick Vitale says, “I would love to see all scholarship athletes paid, regardless of sport. But at the very least those athletes on revenue-producing teams should receive some form of compensation. Not enough to make them rich, just enough so they can enjoy some of the simple pleasures most college students get to experience”(Vitale, 81). I agree with this, because some of these players can’t call home and say, “Mom, send me $200.” Colleges do not have to pay each player $1 million. These kids are leaving college early, because they want the money. What good is an education to them when they are a millionaire? If college basketball players were paid just a little, enough to get by, they would find out that the NBA can wait, and maybe receiving an education is more important.
         Mike Lupica says “Give them $25,000 a year, hey we’ll give them $50,000 if we have to, but it’s not enough anymore.” Lupica has a good idea on how the players should be paid. “Bring sneaker companies into it. If Nike wants to put a basketball team on scholarship, make sure the players start getting their cut. If Nike wants to be in the college basketball business, don’t just pay the school and don’t just pay the coaches. If the school gets a million, matching funds go into a fund for those players”(Lupica, 150).
         All of these players go to the pros to receive the money they can get from these shoe companies. They get all the offers while they are in college, and they are probably thinking if they went to the pros early, they can get even more money. As stated many times in my paper, if all they want is money, give that to them while they are in college. Let them receive an education just in case the NBA doesn’t work out.
         Mike Lupica wasn’t all for paying college basketball players. He thinks its a semi-good idea, but like most people, he believes that we will end up paying them millions and it will just be the NBA in college hoops. Dick Vitale and the other hand, sees that college basketball has been unfair to their players, by bringing in millions of dollars from Nike, and not giving a penny of it to their players.
         Paying college athletes seems to be the only way to keep these kids from jumping into the NBA early. They are hard working college athletes trying to get good grades to remain on the team, trying to play their best so a NBA team will take a chance at them, and they don’t receive anything from it. They have no money, but they want money. Money is more important than an education to them, but if we keep them in college, maybe they will learn that money will come and go, but an education will last a lifetime.

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