Member of Congress, Basketball Player, Author
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Let’s Start Paying College Athletes

By Tom McMillen |


former college and professional basketball player and former member of Congress, Ellicott City, Md.

I certainly agree with Joe Nocera that basketball and football players are treated like chattel in the present system. Denying players a basic stipend when coaches are making ridiculous amounts is the height of inequity. But paying football and men’s basketball players isn’t feasible, given Title IX regulations and politics. If you disconnect moneymaking sports, women’s sports will very likely lose financing. Paying basketball and football players will not address the core problem of an unsustainable arms race in college sports. The proposition that the N.C.A.A. is in charge and can control college sports is a canard. If the N.C.A.A. pushes too hard, top conferences could create their own basketball playoff and challenge the N.C.A.A. tournament, which is currently a huge windfall for the N.C.A.A. Then the decentralization of power that began with the Supreme Court decision will only get worse. Your proposal offers an important contribution to the debate by arguing for stipends to players, the right to counsel and a defined scholarship term and the opportunity for lifetime health insurance. But getting there isn’t going to be easy.

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Filed under: Opinion

Tom McMillen

Tom McMillen