Paying college athletes could lead to unfair playing field

Sam Graham, Layout editor

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One of the most hotly debated topics in college athletics as of late has been the question of whether or not college athletes should be paid. On Sept. 30, the state of California decided to act on the debate by passing the Fair Pay to Play Act.

The act will allow college athletes in the state of California to be paid for the use of their name, image and likeness. The state schools of California won’t be the ones paying the students directly, but the act gives athletes the right to hire an agent to represent them and help them get business deals.

The act, set to go into effect in 2023, would effectively allow California college athletes to act as professionals while still in college.

After the act was signed by California Governor Gavin Newsome, the National Collegiate Athletic Association quickly came onto the scene, stating that any athletes who are being paid will not be allowed to compete for their respective university.

I believe that this act may have been signed more as an incentive for the NCAA to change their regulations than to be an actual law. I would be surprised if college athletes start being paid in 2023. However, I do believe that this act being passed may influence other state legislations to pass similar acts in hopes that the NCAA will be persuaded.

If the act does in fact come into being in 2023, I believe it would create a very unfair advantage for California universities. The top high school athletes in the nation would all start to commit to California schools where they could be paid, which would create a very unlevel playing field in the world of college athletics.

Schools such as Stanford University, the University of California Los Angeles and the University of California, among others, that are already very competitive programs athletically, would become even stronger.

However, it only seems fair that if a very talented basketball player’s jersey is sold, whether the athlete’s name is on it or not, the athlete should receive a portion of that profit. If the player is good enough that the public wants to spend money to wear their number, then the player should benefit at least a little bit from that.

And if an athlete is talented enough for their jersey to sell, the athlete should be allowed to hire an agent to help market themselves.

Multiple big names in sports, including Duke basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski and NBA star LeBron James have voiced their approval of the act. At the end of the day, it will come down to a staredown between state law and the NCAA’s regulations to see who will back down first.

While I understand the incentive to pay college athletes and I believe some compensation should be given to athletes, I think that athletes are amateurs until they are professionals and therefore they should not be able to hire agents. The money should come from either the school, the NCAA or possibly even entertainment industries but not from a third party in the form of an agent.

If a player is good enough to have an agent in college, they will likely end up playing their respective sport professionally and they can hire an agent then. For the time being, athletes should remain amateurs so that there is no conflict between schools and the NCAA and so the sports community can continue to watch the games that they love.