Playing a college sport is like having a job. The difference is student athletes don’t get paid nearly as much as employees of a company do.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a fast-food employee makes an average of $22,140 a year. The NCAA claims to give out $2.9 billion to over 50,000 student-athletes. If these numbers are accurate, college athletes get an average of around $19,300 or less through scholarships.
The stars who help generate millions of dollars for the NCAA, on average, earn less money a year than the guy who always breaks the McDonald’s ice cream machine.
According to the NCAA finance report provided by USA Today, the University of Montana generated almost $22 million in 2018 and around $27 million in 2017. The University gave out around $5 million in athletic scholarships. Less than 25% of earnings went to the athletes, and athletic coaches received over 30% of earnings for that year.
Griz football head coach Bobby Hauck’s official contract states that he makes $20,000 a year if he “attends all reasonably requested UM athletes and GSA functions.”
Hauck makes more money a year by attending scholarship dinners and other events alone than players make all year, even though the players are the reason these events are possible.
Fans don’t pay to watch Hauck scowl while he struts around the sideline. They pay to watch Montana’s star receiver Jerry Louie-McGee’s hair flow behind him while he scores touchdowns.
The NCAA rulebook also prohibits student-athletes from benefiting off of their name and likeness. Companies like Fanatics make custom college sports jerseys online, allowing fans to create jerseys of current college athletes. These apparel companies profit off of college athlete’s likenesses for commercial purposes without the athletes receiving anything in return.
California, South Carolina and New York all currently have bills attempting to be passed that would allow college athletes to benefit from their likenesses. The NCAA has labeled these bills as “unconstitutional,” but they are a small step towards college athletes being paid.