Whether college athletes should be compensated for their play has become a hot topic as the NCAA continues to grow as a business. Jerome Allen, coach of Penn men’s basketball team, believes that too much emphasis has been placed on money in college athletics.
“It’s a system that’s flawed,” the coach said. “So many holes, cracks, leaks and many other adjectives could be used to describe it.”
Allen voiced his opinion at the “Should College Athletes Get Paid?” forum held Wednesday night in Du Bois College House. Around 55 Penn students also attended to discuss the benefits and disadvantages of athletic compensation.
The forum was hosted by the Consciousness in Black Film and Theatre program in DuBois and broadcasted a range of opinions.
Sherryta Freeman, senior associate athletic director at Temple University, said that unless there is some way to eliminate subjectivity, the students shouldn’t be compensated.
“How do you pay the starters more than you pay the backups? How do you pay the student athletes in one sport and not another sport? So with all of those factors, if it can’t be fair, then you can’t pay student-athletes,” Freeman said.
Freeman also mentioned the recent NCAA reform that allows conferences to vote on whether or not to add $2,000 per year in spending money for D-I athletes receiving full scholarships.
The reason for this, said Freeman, is, “The students are playing in games, and their schools and the NCAA are making that money, so the argument is where does the student-athlete benefit from all the billions of dollars that are made off of them?”
Gwen Harris, coach of the Penn women’s track and field team, agreed with Freeman
“If you pay a basketball player or a football player and not my players, I’m going to get salty,” she said.
Harris added that athletes should evaluate their reasons for participating in their sport.
“Are we just chasing money? I’ve had parents say to me, ‘I don’t want my child to work.’ … Everybody has to work; work makes you understand that money is important, but it isn’t free,” Harris said.
Seck Barry, a College junior who runs track, said that athletes should be compensated but not necessarily with money.
“I think [athletes] should be paid in the form of assistance,” Barry said. “If an athlete needs a tutor, he shouldn’t worry about who pays that tutor. If an athlete needs to pay for his books, he shouldn’t worry … The school should provide that [money].”
Amira Yeiser, a College freshman who also runs track, shared Barry’s sentiments.
“If we win a big championship track meet, then yes, we should receive an incentive, but I don’t feel we should be paid to practice unless we’re producing major results,” Yeiser said.
Melissa Nelson, director of the Consciousness in Black Film and Theatre program, said being afforded the opportunity to be a college athlete is payment enough.
“If the athlete is able to use their education the best way they can possible use it, they end up getting the payment in the long run.”
This article was updated on Dec. 2 to reflect the correct number of attendees at the event.