Columnist questions benefit of going to an NCAA institution

Shaheed Shihan Columnist

You might be one of almost 16 million people that tune in to watch the final four of March Madness this weekend. If you do decide to do so, you will watch hearts being broken, records being made and champions being crowned. You will watch only about 1 percent of these athletes go on to be a professional in the US. What you will not watch is what happens to the “student-athletes” who “weren’t good enough” even though they devoted the majority of their time in college for their love of the game and for the pride of the school. 

Yes, I did put “student-athletes” in quotation marks. In almost any form of the game, you have probably heard commentators that are “insisted” by the NCAA that they use that term to refer to students who play sports at college. The term “student-athlete” implies the idea that these students who play college sports are engaged in secondary or extra-curricular activities that enhance their education. Which technically means that their status is equal to those members on a debate team or band. Except for one major difference – these “student-athletes” bring in thousands of dollars in revenue for their school. 

But the fact of the matter is, these students do not get a slice of the pie. An agreement with the NCAA these “student-athletes” must sign, deems them as amateurs; when in reality, these athletes are professional in every sense of the term except they are not paid for their labor. Many of you might argue that these “student-athletes” receive scholarships – but guess what, there’s a catch here too. Since 1973, a school cannot give away a four year scholarship, not three years, not two, – just one. So if a student is no longer viewed as an asset, then the coach can decide not to waste their scholarship on the student the next year. To add on, families of these student-athletes do not receive any compensation from the NCAA to travel and see their children play. The agreement also gives the NCAA all the rights to use a student-athlete’s image for the rest his life without any compensation to the athlete himself. Keep in mind, that the NCAA is registered as a non-profit. 

So why should you care? If you are an SDSU student, look around you. The gigantic “student-athlete” facility next to the Dykhouse might be a start. You’ve also probably heard that the school is going forward with a $65 million dollar football stadium. The money is definitely flowing in, but for whose benefit? Yes the “student-athlete” gets to use these facilities and we get to enjoy the game, but as one student senator pointed out bluntly, sporting events are catered toward recognizing big financial donors and corporate names rather than students that are in the playing field or the ones supporting them. 

Schools with big athletic programs pay coaches and athletic directors in the millions. SDSU seems to be heading down a similar path. The revenue generated annually from NCAA basketball championship is around $700 million. That’s a really big pie. Shouldn’t “student-athletes” deserve a slice?


Shaheed Shihan is majoring in mathematics. He can be reached at [email protected]