Paying college athletes should not be seen as a negative


LaVar Ball, center, with his sons and Chino Hill High School basketball stars, LiAngelo, left, and LaMelo, right, on Feb. 22, 2017 at their home in Chino Hills, Calif. The family wears the Big Baller Brand line of clothing that LaVar started. (Leonard Ortiz/Orange County Register/TNS)

Hayden Hooper

In the past couple of months, we have seen the world hate one family– the Ball family, led by father LaVar. 

In the middle of last semester, Lavar’s middle kid, LiAngelo, was set to play in China for the UCLA Bruins, and during his visit he was arrested and suspended from the team. At the same time, Lavar’s youngest son, LaMelo was pulled out of school to be homeschooled. Although many question Lamelo’s eligibility as a student-athlete due to the family company, Big Baller Brand, both sons are now playing off of America soil, in Lithuania. 

The Ball family might have alternative motives for sending the kids to play in a foreign country, but questioning someone’s eligibility over a family company is ridiculous.

Here at Kentucky we see many basketball players coming in for just one year and going to the NBA, the one-and-done concept, but why is this rule composed by both the NBA and NCAA actually hurting the companies the most? Paying players in college has been seen as a harsh idea in college. 

College players being paid shouldn’t be seen as a dismissive comment like it is today. Just recently in the University of Louisville versus University of Pittsburgh, Pitt Head Coach Kevin Stallings called out to a fan saying at least they didn’t pay their players $100,000 to play. This is the problem of what we see today.

The NCAA makes a lot of money year in and year out. With the addition of the College Football Playoff, the NCAA now makes more money than ever with this system, and March Madness bringing in massive revenue to this “non-profit organization.”

According to a pie chart from, 81 percent of its $871.6 million dollar revenue in the 2012-13 season came from TV deals. This comes to roughly $705 million dollars alone in TV deals, which they wouldn’t have if it wasn’t for the athletes being on TV. Do the athletes see the money? Not really– but they get a full scholarship, the other side of the argument would say.

In 2015, ESPN reporter Jay Bilas said to that college players deserve to be paid. He gave an analogy of a musician who is going to college and can make money for their talents on the side. On the other hand, college athletes cannot be paid for their talents. 

Being a student-athlete is like a full-time job; even though it may seem relaxed, the student-athletes have a full course load of classes, plus practice, workouts, and games.

By paying players, the quality of the product on the court or field might expand, as we might see top talent stay for two or three years as they know that money is coming through while working on a degree that they could fall back on in the future. Paying a few extra dollars could’ve helped people like Emmanuel Mudiay, who was a senior in high school, committed to Southern Methodist University, then decided to play overseas to keep money coming in for his family. The NBA does not say you have to attend college before entering the draft; it is all about the age.

There are many theories on how they could pay players in the NCAA to make it fair in every sport for equal pay. First, a committee would run the numbers and come up with a set value for every student-athlete. Allowing the hiring of agents and the branding of these players could be another source of revenue.

This leads back to the Ball family and their company, Big Baller Brand. Currently, something like this is seen as being bad but could be here for the right reasons as we see future stars in every platform work on a degree while making what they deserve.

Also, the final plus is how you are changing these players’ lives. As they are making money, they are also learning how to take care of their money. We always hear the stories of the first purchases after that first paycheck comes in from the NBA and NFL and how crazy they blow their money. College is supposed to be for learning how to set a budget and save money; beginning to make money in college could help them learn to better manage their money.

So the next time you see something negative about paying players, just imagine the teams the Cats could’ve had. John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis might have been on the same team. How about Karl-Anthony Towns, De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk on the same team? Paying players should never be seen as negative, but should instead be glorified in America and in the NCAA.  

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