This investigation used the survey method to analyze college
students' (n = 458) perceptions on additional payments, beyond an
athletic scholarship, to intercollegiate student-athletes. Four
components of college students' perceptions were examined: Whether
student-athletes should be allowed to receive payment, proponents'
arguments, opponents' arguments, and the revenue source that should
provide the funding if the NCAA were to allow payment. Results revealed:
(a) College students' supported payment to college
student-athletes, (b) College students' perceived illegal payments
would decline if payment was allowed, (c) Opponents' of payment
believed an athletic scholarship is adequate payment, and (d) The
additional funding should come from the athletic department of the
university. These findings suggest that for athletic conferences
exhibiting high levels of "corporate athleticism"
(Hart-Nibbring & Cottingham, 1986) college students' support
paying intercollegiate student-athletes.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), formed in
1905, set bylaws requiring college student-athletes to be amateurs in
order to be eligible for intercollegiate athletics competition (NCAA
Manual, 1999). According to the NCAA, requiring college student-athletes
to be amateurs protects them from being exploited by professional and
commercial enterprises. However, intercollegiate athletics have changed
dramatically over the past ninety-five years. Presently intercollegiate
athletics generate tremendous amounts of gross revenue, especially
football and basketball players. Hart-Nibbrig & Cottingham (1986)
termed the current influx of revenue into intercollegiate athletics as
Corporate athleticism represents the increasing influence of the
business ethic causing the commercialization of intercollegiate
athletics (Li, LaPoint & Mawson, 1998; Hart-Nibbrig &
Cottingham, 1986). Several examples clearly signify the existence of
corporate athleticism in intercollegiate athletics today. First, the
revenue that the NCAA and some member institutions receive from
television contracts and sponsorship agreements signify the prominence
of professional and commercial enterprises. Since 1988 the NCAA has
received in excess of $150 million per year from CBS for rights to
broadcast the NCAA men's basketball tournament (Byers, 1995).
Furthermore, in the mid-1990's it became commonplace for
universities to sign exclusive sponsorship contracts. Florida State
University, Penn State University, and the University of Michigan are
just three examples of schools signing sponsorship agreements, worth
over $2 million each, with the shoe and apparel company Nike (Ellis,
Coaches' salaries are a second indication that professional
and commercial enterprises are abound in intercollegiate athletics. Many
head coaches, specifically men's basketball, football, and
women's basketball, earn salaries well above $100,000 annually.
Total compensation packages including endorsement contracts often exceed
$1 million for coaches at top programs. Rabalais (2000) reported at
least 10 head football coaches have total compensation packages worth
over $1 million per season and expected that number to increase each
season. Just one example of how lucrative endorsement contracts have
become in intercollegiate athletics is Rick Pitono, then head basketball
coach at the University of Kentucky, receiving $300,000 per year that
his team wore Adidas brand basketballshoes (Fish, 1997).
Another indication of an increasing corporate presence in
intercollegiate athletics is the proliferation of cavernous stadiums
crowned by luxury boxes sponsored by corporations (Schneider, 2000).
Examples of new stadia construction include Ohio State Universities new
$105 million Schottenstein Center, 110 luxury boxes at Neyland Stadium
(University of Tennessee), and the University of Michigan spending $7.4
million to renovate Michigan Stadium. New, larger stadia mean increased
seating capacity and increased corporate presence in luxury suites. The
University of Texas plans to raise just under $3 million per season from
the sale of the 50 luxury boxes built into their stadium in 1997
As intercollegiate athletics have progressed toward a model that
includes, and in many cases depends upon, the presence of professional
and commercial enterprises other debates have arisen. Among the most
frequently debated issues is whether the NCAA should abolish its long
standing amateur principles and allow direct cash payments to college
student-athletes (Beauchamp, 1996; DeShazier, 2000; Fish, 1997; Moran,
2000; Rushin, 1997; Sheehan, 1996; Steiber, 1991, VanderZwaag, 1988;
Proponents of payment to college athletes question why the NCAA,
many coaches, and administrators are allowed to earn large amounts of
money and the student-athlete is limited to an athletic scholarship
(DeVenzio, 1986; Fish, 1997; Moran, 2000; Rhoden, 1994; Rushin 1997;
Sage 1990). Other frequently advanced arguments supporting payment
include illegal payments to athletes would decline if athletes were paid
(Adams, 1996; Clemons, 1996: Cooper, 1994; Goldstein, 1996; Isenberg,
1994; Moran, 2000; Steiber, 1991) and that an athletic scholarship
(commonly referred to as a "full ride") does not cover all
costs associated with attending college (Benner, 1994; Blackstone, 1995;
Bradley, 1994; Byers, 1995; Lapchick, 1997, Rushin, 1997).
Just as there are many supporters of payment to college athletes
the issue has many opponents. Commonly placed arguments against payment
include: Student-athletes receive adequate pay in the form of an
athletic scholarship (Baker, 1996: Beauchamp, 1996; DeShazier, 2000;
Dooley, 1995; Gerdy, 1995; Mott, 1994; Wolff, 1994); The current
financial status of most, if not all, athletic departments prohibits any
additional financial outlays such as payment (Benner, 1994; Blum, 1994;
Bradley, 1994; Looney, 1996; Thompson, 1995); Payment to
student-athletes would require the NCAA to lose its current nonprofit
status (Bradley, 1994: Fish. 1997; Rushin. 1997) and Title IX bylaws
would require payment to all athletes making total payments unachievable
(Benner, 1994: Isenberg, 1994: Mott, 1994: Rushin. 1997).
While popular and professional literature has debated this issue
frequently, Schneider (2000) found that little attempt has been made to
ascertain the opinions of the individuals associated with this
controversy and called for additional research in this area. While
little research had been conducted to determine student-athletes
perceptions on this issue, no research had focused tin the perceptions
of college students' and their support or opposition of payment to
college student-athletes beyond and athletic scholarship.
Mangan (1994) noted that the rising costs of athletic programs are
being passed on to college students in the form of increasing tuition
and fees. According to the NCAA, student fees (that did not pay for
athletic tickets) provided an average of 3% of an athletics
department's revenues in 1989. That number grew to 6% in just three
years and is expected to continue to further increase yearly (Mangan,
1994). Such a reliance on student fees to support athletic programs only
underscores the need to determine whether college students would support
paying student-athletes. Furthermore, Levine and Cureton (1998) reported
that the two principal issues of student unrest over the past two years
included the rising costs of college and multiculturalism. Therefore,
the purpose of this study was to examine the opinions of college
students' regarding payment, in addition to an athletic
scholarship, to intercollegiate student-athletes. Specifically, the
following research questions were addressed: (a) Do college
students' support payment of student-athletes? (b) What arguments
do college students' advance to support their opinions? and (c)
Where do college students believe revenue should come from, if
student-athletes were to be paid?
The present investigation was a part of a larger research agenda
examining perceptions of direct cash payments to intercollegiate
The population for this study was college students from a premier
Division I athletics conference. The conference was comprised of
universities that displayed the characteristics of corporate athleticism
including lavish, revenue-generating stadia, high salaries for coaches
and administrators, frequent television appearances and high ticket
sales. Student directories were obtained from each of the universities
in the selected conference and the directories were used to randomly
select 2,000 college students.
The instrument used in this study was comprised of a questionnaire
with two sections. The first section elicited responses to four forced
choice questions: (a) Should student-athletes receive direct cash
payments for intercollegiate athletics participation? (b) Why should
student-athletes receive direct cash payments? (c) Why should
student-athletes not receive direct cash payments? and (d) If cash
payments were permitted, what revenue stream(s) should provide the
additional money? Section I of the instrument was derived from the
literature that has discussed the concept of paying intercollegiate
student-athletes (Beauchamp, 1996; DeVenzio, 1986; Fish, 1997; Rushin,
1997: Sheehan, 1996; Steiber, 1991; VanderZwaag, 1988). A comprehensive
list of choices for each question was gained through the literature
review. Participants in the study were asked to select the choice(s) to
each question based on their perception. Subjects were also allowed to
write in additional responses if their choice was not found on the list
The second section of the questionnaire included respondents'
demographics (age, gender, year in school) and socioeconomies (methods)
of paying for college.
Questionnaires were mailed to each of the 2,000 randomly selected
college students along with a cover letter and a pre-addressed, stamped
envelope. The cover letter included the purpose of this investigation,
directions to complete the questionnaire, and assurance of
confidentiality. A total of 458 useable surveys were returned for an
overall response rate of 23%.
First, the returned questionnaires were screened for completeness.
Second the data were entered into a database using the SPSS Statistical
Package. Overall frequencies to each of the four questions were analyzed
to determine college students' perceptions on the issue. Additional
analysis was competed to determine if there was a difference in
perceptions between female and male college students. Chi-square tests
of homogeneity (alpha=.01) were used to determine whether there was a
significant difference in perceptions between females and males on each
of the questions.
Complete and useable questionnaires were received from 458 college
students for a response rate of 23%. A majority of the students were
male (60%). The distribution of education level was consistent with 28%
seniors, 27% juniors, 26% sophomores, and 19% freshmen.
Overall, 54% of all respondents believed student-athletes should be
paid for intercollegiate athletics participation. A chi-square test of
homogeneity revealed males (57%) and females (49%) were equally likely
to support payment ([X.sup.2](1), N=458) = 2.99, p [is less than] .001).
The most often advanced reasons that student-athletes should be paid
were cheating would decline if student-athletes were paid (76%) and
student-athletes generate large amounts of revenue and deserve payment
(63%). As shown in Table 1, chi-square analysis also revealed that of
those who supported cash payments, females (41%) were significantly more
likely than males (23%) to base their position of the perception that a
scholarship does not cover the total cost of attending college
([X.sup.2](1), N=248) = 9.13, p [is less than] .001).
Of those who opposed cash payments to student-athletes (n=210) the
most often selected answers were that athletes are already paid through
an athletic scholarship (49%) and athletic departments do not have
enough money for additional payment beyond a scholarship (39%). Table 2
shows males were significantly more likely than females to perceive
Title IX implications would make payment impossible ([X.sup.2](1).
N=210) = 6.62, p [is less than] .001).
If the NCAA were to allow payment, college students' most
frequently believed the additional money should come from the athletics
department (56%) and additional revenue generating contracts such a shoe
and television contracts (50%). Increasing tuition to pay college
athletes was selected by 24% of respondents. As shown in Table 3,
females were significantly more likely than males to support obtaining
the additional funding to pay athletes from the athletic department
(X2(1), N=458) = 25.46, p [is less than] .001), the general fund
([X.sup.2](1), N=458) = 8.581, p [is less than] .001) and other
contracts ([X.sup.2](1), N=458) = 136.29, p [is less than] .001).
The major purpose of this investigation was to determine the
perceptions of college students' on the issue of paying
intercollegiate student-athletes. In this study college students
supported paying student-athletes. This indicates that, for the
conference studied, college students' valued the athletes, athletic
programs, and the attention intercollegiate athletics brings to their
institutions. Furthermore, while some authors (Levine & Cureton,
1998; Mangan, 1994) discussed college students' dissatisfaction
with increasing costs, this study revealed that students', to a
smaller extent, supported increasing tuition and fees to pay
It has been suggested that paying college student-athletes would
reduce illegal payments (Adams, 1996; Clemons, 1996; Cooper, 1994;
Goldstein, 1996; Isenberg, 1994; Moran, 2000; Steiber, 1991).
Examination of the results found that the primary reason advanced by
students for supporting payment of athletes was that cheating, in the
form of illegal payments, would decline. This indicates that college
students believe, or are aware of, frequent illegal payments to athletes
and are seeking methods to reduce the level of illegal payments. College
students also advanced that athletes should be paid because of the
revenue they generate. These supporters may be basing their perception
on the amount of gross income athletic departments receive rather than
net income. While athletic programs do generate large amounts of revenue
through sponsorships, ticket sales, and merchandise sales, excluding
funding from the university itself, Division I-A athletic departments
averaged a $823,000 loss in recent years (Suggs, 1998).
As shown in Table 2, opponents of payment believed that
student-athletes were already paid, and paid well through an athletic
scholarship. DeShazier (2000) reported that in addition to an athletic
scholarship, academic tutoring, special computer laboratories, and other
benefits student-athletes receive, a college degree will earn and
employee, on average. $17,089 per year more than one without a college
Among the 210 college students who opposed payment only 42
considered Title IX implications as a reason not to pay athletes and
males were more likely to choose that reason than females. This is an
issue that needs serious consideration. Proponents of payment have
argued for payment to football and men's basketball players because
of the revenue they generate (DeVenzio, 1986). However implementation of
this plan may violate Title IX (Rushin, 1997). Rushin (1997) estimated
providing a $200 per month stipend to all NCAA student-athletes
receiving a scholarship would cost over $540 million. Additionally, the
fact that males were more likely to select this option than females may
be because males had been exposed the issue of Title IX to a greater
extent and were aware of the number of men's sports that had been
Of particular interest to this study was the source of revenue that
would be used if student-athletes were to receive payment. While there
were significant differences between females and males regarding almost
all possible sources (see Table 3) several trends were found in this
study. College students' perception that the money should come from
the athletic department is consistent with the finding that they
perceive athletic departments generate large amounts of revenue. While
it is well documented that most athletic departments lose money
annually, reducing spending in some areas may save enough money to allow
for stipends to student-athletes. Examples of how money could be saved
include football teams staying in hotels the night, before home games,
traveling by bus rather than flying, and eating at less lavish
restaurants. The difference in perceptions between females and males may
indicate a difference in interest level and knowledge level about the
issue of paying college student-athletes. It is anticipated that as this
issue is increasingly discussed, females and males may have similar
Perhaps the most noteworthy finding of this study is that 24% of
college students selected increasing tuition as a method to pay college
athletes. Although this is a small percentage, when combined with the
fact a majority of college students in this study support payment, it
can be anticipated college students would favor the payment of college
athletes. It is anticipated that college students' supporting
payment to student-athletes is higher for the population in this study
than other athletic conferences due to its exposure to "corporate
athleticism" (Hart-Nibbring & Cottingham, 1986).
The results of this study suggest college students' believe
student-athletes should be paid in addition to an athletic scholarship.
Awareness of college students' perceptions may allow educators,
administrators, and the NCAA to anticipate students' reactions if
the NCAA were to allow payment to intercollegiate student-athletes.
Schneider (2000) discussed the intensity over the debate of payment
to student-athletes mandates the issue must be addressed further.
College students, whose fees provide a majority of the revenue to
athletic departments, must be studied further in order to find solutions
and anticipate potential opposition, if the NCAA changes its bylaws to
allow payment to college student-athletes.
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Reasons Male and Female College Students Believe Intercollegiate
Athletes Should Receive Direct Cash Payments
Reason All Ss n=159 n=89
A scholarship does not cover costs 74 37 37
Student-athletes generate revenue 157 107 50
Cheating would decline 189 127 62
A scholarship does not cover costs 9.13(*)
Student-athletes generate revenue 3.04
Cheating would decline 3.28
(*) p < .001
S = subjects
Reasons Male and Female College Students Believe Intercollegiate
Athletes Should Not Receive Direct Cash Payments
Males Females [X.sup.2]
Reason All Ss n=118 n=92
Athletes are already paid 103 55 48 .64
Not enough money to pay 82 49 33 .70
Title IX implications 42 31 11 6.62(*)
Tax implications 61 28 33 3.70
(*) p < .001
S = Subjects
Revenue Source Male and Female College Students Believe Should Be
Used to Fund Payment of the NCAA were to allow Direct Cash Payments
Males Females [X.sup.2]
Reason All Ss n=277 n=181
Athletics Department 255 128 127 25.46(*)
General Fund of University 111 54 57 8.58(*)
Shoe, Television Contracts 231 119 112 136.29(*)
Increased Tuition 112 70 42 .253
Additional Playoff Systems 158 151 7 124.26(*)
(*) p < .001
S = Subjects
RAYMOND G. SCHNEIDER
Bowling Green State University