Until recently, I saw no reason to insert my opinion into the question of paying college athletes for the money their performances generates during competitions. It dawned on me that I occasionally work with a client that becomes one of the students at the center of this controversy. So, why not voice my opinion if it could help benefit a student that I have grown to care about?
It seems to me that there is a logical and common sense way to reward college athletes without sacrificing their amateur status or unleashing a wealthy semi-pro athlete on an unsuspecting student population. If given the opportunity to affect the outcome of this debate, I would submit the following. On national signing day, the contract that the high school senior signs would have a few additional stipulations. Some percentage of the earnings realized by the college would be put into a trust for each scholarship athlete. This amount would be above and beyond the athletic scholarship. This trust would have the agreed-upon percentage of the college’s sports earnings added to it each year that the athlete was enrolled at the school and in good standing.
The amount of money in the trust for each athlete would be allowed to grow with any money generated from use of the student’s name, likeness, signatures or any other source of income directly related to that individual. The trust would be held in the name of the athlete until such time as they receive a degree from the institution holding the trust in their name.
Of course, the devil is in the details and anyone concerned about this issue already has a million questions buzzing around in their head by now. So, what if a student decides to leave school early and sign a pro contract? Well, they probably wouldn’t need the money from the trust and that money could go into the general scholarship fund as a donation in their name. The exception to forfeit of the trust would be injury, illness or some extenuating circumstance that made completion of their degree excessively difficult.
I believe a system like this would give every athlete seed money for a good start upon graduation and allow the superstars to use their star power to build a nice little nest egg if the pro career didn’t work out. Just my thoughts about what seems fair and equitable…