This archived article was written by: Chelsie Thackeray
Let’s face it. As active participants in the Utah State University system, sports are a big part of many student’s campus life and captivates the undivided attention of both students and alumni. It is an integral part of any college experience and sports are here to stay. Yet even as athletics and its participants are an essential function for the sustenance of the university, students aren’t paid even a small portion of the massive funds raked in by major sport teams each year. As the sole recipients of all the funds earned by sport programs nationwide, it is the responsibility of the university or college to pay student athletes for even a small portion of the work they do.
For example, an audit of the 2009-2010 athletic program revenue at Oregon State revealed a $44,538,251 deficit; an egregious amount to be squandered on coach’s salaries and excessive program improvements. With a few simple changes in the amount of scholarships awarded to students and the amount found in such scholarships, even greater funds could go to the students who work for none of the profit.
Statistics aside, not all university athletic programs cheat their athletes of the funds they make. As of 2014, Utah State University made the second highest annual revenue in the state at $10,973,374, second to University of Utah. Yet even with this unsubsidized income, Utah State enrolls the highest number of athletes in the state, at 2011 students. That comes to about a $548 profit per unsubsidized capita, a far more feasible number than its out-of- state counterparts. When considering other costs such as outfitting students, scholarships, game fees, travel costs and much more, Utah State invests more than it gains from its athletic programs, making it impractical for an additional income for the students that participate.
But at larger universities with expansive programs, massive funds and diehard alumni such as Duke, Mississippi or Oregon State, the blatant larceny in withholding at least some form of compensation from these students is sheer embezzlement. Student athletes work hard for the universities they play for, the average athlete dedicating 40 plus hours to practice, conditioning, meetings and tournaments alike. Yet for all the hours of faithful commitment athletes allocate outside of their schooling and outside priorities, most receive no compensation for a full time job’s worth of work.Some may argue that the scholarship the student athlete is awarded, along with the opportunity to study at major universities is payment enough. Those who believe this way are fooling themselves. The act of forcing anyone to work without fair pay is slavery, which was outlawed 152 years ago. Even if students receive the benefit of a subsidized or free education, the “privilege” of learning simply is not compensation enough for their sheer physical efforts. Student athletes are human like everyone, deserving the basic human right to compensation for their labors.