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Why Some Decisions Aren’t as Simple As They Seem…

Do you think college athletes should be paid?
I’ve always been in favor of changing the rules, so student athletes can receive a portion of the proceeds that they generate for their schools. It seems like a simple fairness issue. In America, people should be compensated for rendering services that generate revenue for businesses. However, I was recently reminded that these types of issues are rarely as simple as they seem on the surface.
There are 231 NCAA Division I schools, and their athletic programs made $9.15 billion in revenue during the 2015 fiscal year. Surely schools can use some of those funds to pay their players, right?
I’ve learned it is often important to dig deeper into the facts and ask more questions, to get a better understanding of the pros and cons of each possible decision. After doing more research, I learned that although some schools, like Texas A&M, generate nearly $180 million per year, 44 percent of schools bring in less than $20 million each year.
It is important to note that Title IX has language that ensures gender equality in athletic opportunities. This means that students who play low or no-revenue generating sports, like women’s tennis, will receive the same types of school benefits as high-revenue generating sports, like men’s football and basketball. Essentially, if college football programs can pay five players $50K each, then schools must also make this type of compensation available for non-revenue generating athletes, too.
On the surface, this is not a problem. Non-revenue generating athletes still sacrifice a lot of time to practice and play games for their schools. Gender equality for compensation is also a concept that I support.
However, some schools can’t afford to pay all their athletes. Opponents of paying student athletes argue that if schools were permitted to pay players, but had to pay low-revenue generating athletes as well, they would simply cut the low to no-revenue generating sports. Potentially, all sports, except football and men’s basketball, would be cut to pay certain players and avoid having to pay others.
Allowing student athletes to be paid could lead to the unintended consequence of job and scholarship losses for players and coaches of other athletic programs. If these programs were eliminated, it would also diminish the competition for those sports because the teams that remained would be competing against fewer schools. If these student athletes still wanted to play their sports in college, they would choose to attend larger universities with bigger budgets to receive the pay that they deserve. This could lead to a decrease in student enrollment for smaller schools, which could lead to a reduction in faculty, administrative positions, and potentially lead the closure of some colleges and universities.
I could continue outlining the domino effect of potentially negative paths this decision could create, but by now, you get the point. When making decisions, you must think about all the potential stakeholders, and how your decision will impact each party.
I could write a completely different article, outlining the negative impacts of not paying student athletes. However, the purpose of this article is not to sway you one way or another, but to demonstrate the importance of having a decision-making process that includes a step for collecting information and assessing the potential risk areas associated with your decision. I encourage you to look beyond the surface level of the issue you are facing. This will help you make the most informed decision possible.
Always remember, Leadership is a Lifestyle.
Ryan W. Hirsch
CPT Operations Director