Paying college athletes opens up Pandora's box

The NCAA has just allowed paying student athletes — not on the football field or basketball courts, but outside the arena.  Athletes can earn income from their images posted on commercial enterprises like videogame covers . 

Before this action by the organization that controls all things hoops and pigskins, the thought of paying athletes for their services rendered playing games for their alma maters was gaining momentum.  Many who were originally against the employment of salaried amateurs are now accepting of the practice —  even promoting it.

Maybe it is time to move forward on this issue and pay the athletes who spill blood, sweat, and other matter on the field each Saturday for dear ol' State.

Perhaps this is why the governor of California is more concerned about college athletes getting their due instead of the wildfires making the Golden State into Dante's Inferno: paying the players might be more economical than schooling, housing, and feeding them for four years — if you treat athletes as if they were regular college employees.  But the players had better beware.  They will not realize the "earned income" in a year, let alone four years.

Consider that even if the state university system provides a "living wage " salary of 15 dollars an hour, that is 600 a week, which equates to 31,200 a year before taxes.  Plus the university in which they ply their talents will not provide the other accruements that go with a scholarship: room, board, and classes.  They are now full-time employees, remember, and must now foot the bill just like any other student working full-time and going to school.   

And if you believe that colleges will bid for the services of the blue chip athletes, think again.  Schools and the NCAA will probably enforce a salary cap, at least initially, until they can get their bearings on this revolutionary plan, that prevents schools from buying all the best players.  This might be tried, but it will be ineffective, as the good players after one year of employment will seek greater riches in the NFL , the NBA, the NHL, and MLB.  Think of the NFL and how effective the owners have been with the league-instituted salary cap and neutralizing the players' union.

And what player is going to be patient and wait for his demands to be met? In their minds — the good ones, the legit professional players — the thinking is one and done.  The colleges are a staging area to show their talents and move on to the next level.  

The players won't have to worry about keeping up appearances by attending class, tutoring , study halls keeping themselves academically eligible.  They can hire an agent who can deals for them with merchandising, advertisings, card conventions, and other paid appearances .

And the schools won't have to worry about grade point averages, graduation rates, and other scandals and rules violations that inevitably go hand in hand with academic fraud and suspect recruiting practices. 

The flip-side is that the players may no longer be treated like royalty by alumni, boosters, sponsors, and undergraduates.  Instead, they may be viewed as just any employee or a glorified adjunct professor.

The pressure to win will be crucial for the players, though, because many will probably be signed for one-year deals.  If the players disappoint, why bring 'em back for another season when State can dump 'em for new blood, new talent, and younger players via the high schools?

Why give them lucrative four-year pacts when they could probably apply for tenure?  That could be an interesting development: no longer will the players be freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors.  They will just be employees .

The schools will also be in the "win now" mode.  No more building a program.  Even more pressure to get to the big game.  If the coach loses with this handpicked bunch, he can dump the bunch and begin anew with a fresh crop of players.  This may work one or two times, but eventually, either the coach gets it right or he'll be dismissed along with the players who couldn't get it done.  There will be no excuses about recruiting limitations because of the academic rigors that the school demands.

They are employees now, not "student-athletes."

Finally, how long do the alumni remain fans of the team?  Will there be the same "rah, rah" atmosphere on campus?  Will unique traditions and customs survive?  Will rivalry feel the same or become glorified debates of "Mickey D's or BK," "KFC or Chick-fil-A"?

The push for professionalism at the college level could open Pandora's box.  If this does become reality, how soon do high school players champion the same cause to be paid?

The NCAA has just allowed paying student athletes — not on the football field or basketball courts, but outside the arena.  Athletes can earn income from their images posted on commercial enterprises like videogame covers . 

Before this action by the organization that controls all things hoops and pigskins, the thought of paying athletes for their services rendered playing games for their alma maters was gaining momentum.  Many who were originally against the employment of salaried amateurs are now accepting of the practice —  even promoting it.

Maybe it is time to move forward on this issue and pay the athletes who spill blood, sweat, and other matter on the field each Saturday for dear ol' State.

Perhaps this is why the governor of California is more concerned about college athletes getting their due instead of the wildfires making the Golden State into Dante's Inferno: paying the players might be more economical than schooling, housing, and feeding them for four years — if you treat athletes as if they were regular college employees.  But the players had better beware.  They will not realize the "earned income" in a year, let alone four years.

Consider that even if the state university system provides a "living wage " salary of 15 dollars an hour, that is 600 a week, which equates to 31,200 a year before taxes.  Plus the university in which they ply their talents will not provide the other accruements that go with a scholarship: room, board, and classes.  They are now full-time employees, remember, and must now foot the bill just like any other student working full-time and going to school.   

And if you believe that colleges will bid for the services of the blue chip athletes, think again.  Schools and the NCAA will probably enforce a salary cap, at least initially, until they can get their bearings on this revolutionary plan, that prevents schools from buying all the best players.  This might be tried, but it will be ineffective, as the good players after one year of employment will seek greater riches in the NFL , the NBA, the NHL, and MLB.  Think of the NFL and how effective the owners have been with the league-instituted salary cap and neutralizing the players' union.

And what player is going to be patient and wait for his demands to be met? In their minds — the good ones, the legit professional players — the thinking is one and done.  The colleges are a staging area to show their talents and move on to the next level.  

The players won't have to worry about keeping up appearances by attending class, tutoring , study halls keeping themselves academically eligible.  They can hire an agent who can deals for them with merchandising, advertisings, card conventions, and other paid appearances .

And the schools won't have to worry about grade point averages, graduation rates, and other scandals and rules violations that inevitably go hand in hand with academic fraud and suspect recruiting practices. 

The flip-side is that the players may no longer be treated like royalty by alumni, boosters, sponsors, and undergraduates.  Instead, they may be viewed as just any employee or a glorified adjunct professor.

The pressure to win will be crucial for the players, though, because many will probably be signed for one-year deals.  If the players disappoint, why bring 'em back for another season when State can dump 'em for new blood, new talent, and younger players via the high schools?

Why give them lucrative four-year pacts when they could probably apply for tenure?  That could be an interesting development: no longer will the players be freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors.  They will just be employees .

The schools will also be in the "win now" mode.  No more building a program.  Even more pressure to get to the big game.  If the coach loses with this handpicked bunch, he can dump the bunch and begin anew with a fresh crop of players.  This may work one or two times, but eventually, either the coach gets it right or he'll be dismissed along with the players who couldn't get it done.  There will be no excuses about recruiting limitations because of the academic rigors that the school demands.

They are employees now, not "student-athletes."

Finally, how long do the alumni remain fans of the team?  Will there be the same "rah, rah" atmosphere on campus?  Will unique traditions and customs survive?  Will rivalry feel the same or become glorified debates of "Mickey D's or BK," "KFC or Chick-fil-A"?

The push for professionalism at the college level could open Pandora's box.  If this does become reality, how soon do high school players champion the same cause to be paid?