College Students' Perceptions on the Payment of Intercollegiate Student-Athletes

By Schneider, Raymond G. | College Student Journal, June 2001 | Go to article overview

College Students' Perceptions on the Payment of Intercollegiate Student-Athletes


Schneider, Raymond G., College Student Journal


This investigation used the survey method to analyze college students' (n = 458) perceptions on additional payments, beyond an athletic scholarship, to intercollegiate student-athletes. Four components of college students' perceptions were examined: Whether student-athletes should be allowed to receive payment, proponents' arguments, opponents' arguments, and the revenue source that should provide the funding if the NCAA were to allow payment. Results revealed: (a) College students' supported payment to college student-athletes, (b) College students' perceived illegal payments would decline if payment was allowed, (c) Opponents' of payment believed an athletic scholarship is adequate payment, and (d) The additional funding should come from the athletic department of the university. These findings suggest that for athletic conferences exhibiting high levels of "corporate athleticism" (Hart-Nibbring & Cottingham, 1986) college students' support paying intercollegiate student-athletes.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), formed in 1905, set bylaws requiring college student-athletes to be amateurs in order to be eligible for intercollegiate athletics competition (NCAA Manual, 1999). According to the NCAA, requiring college student-athletes to be amateurs protects them from being exploited by professional and commercial enterprises. However, intercollegiate athletics have changed dramatically over the past ninety-five years. Presently intercollegiate athletics generate tremendous amounts of gross revenue, especially football and basketball players. Hart-Nibbrig & Cottingham (1986) termed the current influx of revenue into intercollegiate athletics as corporate athleticism.

Corporate athleticism represents the increasing influence of the business ethic causing the commercialization of intercollegiate athletics (Li, LaPoint & Mawson, 1998; Hart-Nibbrig & Cottingham, 1986). Several examples clearly signify the existence of corporate athleticism in intercollegiate athletics today. First, the revenue that the NCAA and some member institutions receive from television contracts and sponsorship agreements signify the prominence of professional and commercial enterprises. Since 1988 the NCAA has received in excess of $150 million per year from CBS for rights to broadcast the NCAA men's basketball tournament (Byers, 1995). Furthermore, in the mid-1990's it became commonplace for universities to sign exclusive sponsorship contracts. Florida State University, Penn State University, and the University of Michigan are just three examples of schools signing sponsorship agreements, worth over $2 million each, with the shoe and apparel company Nike (Ellis, 1995).

Coaches' salaries are a second indication that professional and commercial enterprises are abound in intercollegiate athletics. Many head coaches, specifically men's basketball, football, and women's basketball, earn salaries well above $100,000 annually. Total compensation packages including endorsement contracts often exceed $1 million for coaches at top programs. Rabalais (2000) reported at least 10 head football coaches have total compensation packages worth over $1 million per season and expected that number to increase each season. Just one example of how lucrative endorsement contracts have become in intercollegiate athletics is Rick Pitono, then head basketball coach at the University of Kentucky, receiving $300,000 per year that his team wore Adidas brand basketballshoes (Fish, 1997).

Another indication of an increasing corporate presence in intercollegiate athletics is the proliferation of cavernous stadiums crowned by luxury boxes sponsored by corporations (Schneider, 2000). Examples of new stadia construction include Ohio State Universities new $105 million Schottenstein Center, 110 luxury boxes at Neyland Stadium (University of Tennessee), and the University of Michigan spending $7.4 million to renovate Michigan Stadium. …

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