With the Ed O’Bannon lawsuit currently playing out in an Oakland, Calif. courtroom, one of the questions being debated is whether or not student-athletes should be paid. While there is the scholarship that covers tuition, room and board, many who argue that there should be more money to go around see the escalating coaching salaries and lucrative television deals as reasons why those who play the sports should receive more.
One person who’s in favor of athletes being paid is former UConn guard Richard Hamilton, who helped lead the program to its first national title in 1999 before playing more than a decade in the NBA. During a trip up to Syracuse for the Sportscaster U program run by Syracuse play-by-play announcer Matt Park, which is open to current and former professional athletes, Hamilton discussed his thoughts on the subject with Chris Carlson of the Syracuse Post-Standard.
Also of note was Hamilton stating that he may have returned to UConn for his senior season if he and other athletes were paid by the NCAA.
“I would have stayed in school,” Hamilton said. “I think so, I think so. For me it was about timing but also financial situation. It was a chance to take care of the people that took care of you your entire life. Sometimes when you’re in college, you can’t do the stuff you want to do for financial reasons. If you have people helping you out or the NCAA helping you out, I think guys would think twice about going to the NBA. (If you’re getting paid) a lot of needs, not wants, but their needs, are taken care of.”
The question in situations like this is how much would athletes be paid, and who would receive the payments. Would there be a salary, or would the goal be to meet the full cost of attendance for athletes? In his testimony during the O’Bannon lawsuit former Alabama wide receiver Tyrone Prothro, whose career came to an end due to a fractured leg, stated that he had to take out student loans that he’s still paying off to this day. (It should be noted that Prothro’s testimony focused on the fact that he did not control the rights to his own image and the uses of it by the school and the NCAA.)
For those not in favor of giving athletes more, especially if financing the education of their own college-aged children, that probably won’t be seen as a big deal. But if that’s the case, why refer to the scholarship as a “full” scholarship? Whether or not changes are made to the current model will depend on a number of factors, with the “Power Five’s” quest for autonomy and the O’Bannon lawsuit being the biggest factors.
But this will be one of the issues the powers that be within collegiate athletics will need to address in the near future.