Pay-to-play? The rich get richer

Published 6:20 pm Tuesday, September 24, 2019

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If the State of New York approves a measure that would require the athletic departments at its colleges/universities to share their sports-generated revenue with the players, how soon would this spread to other states?

The term “like a wildfire” would serve as the answer to the above question.

I, for one, will go on the record and voice my disapproval of any such measure.

This came to my attention while reading a recent article on It alluded to Kevin Parker, a State Senator from Brooklyn, proposing a bill that, if passed, would make New York the first state in the nation to provide direct payments to collegiate student-athletes.

At the outset, Parker proposed legislation that would allow college athletes in New York the right to sell the rights to their own names, images and likenesses. According to ESPN, he later added an amendment that would require college athletic departments to give a 15 percent share of its annual revenue to student-athletes.

If there’s any ray of sunshine on Parker’s proposal, it comes in the fact that he wants that revenue to be shared equally among all student-athletes that compete in any sport at the school. That would prevent the athletes participating in the major, revenue-producing sports (football and basketball) from reaping all the rewards.

But I still don’t like it and here’s why…..the larger, more successful colleges/universities – those that generate millions in athletic revenue each and every year – will have an unfair advantage in attracting student-athletes, especially in the minor sports.

As an example, let’s say your kid is an above-average baseball or softball player. They are being recruited by “Big Money State University” (whose athletic department generated a shade over $90 million last year) – but will have to sit and wait for a couple of years to crack the starting line-up – and also by “Little Sisters of the Poor College” (who reported about $4 million in athletic revenue from a year ago), where they can play as a true freshman.

Both schools offer the same number of male and female sports teams, which means they total the same amount of student-athletes. Will they choose the small college route where they can immediately make an impact on the playing field, but with less shared payments, or line their pockets with bountiful cash from the bigger university in exchange for waiting their turn to start?

As they say, money talks and “you-know-what” walks. Student-athletes will flock to where the cash is, thus the rich schools get richer in both athletic cash and talent; leaving the little guys to choose from what’s left.

And here’s another issue I have with this “pay-to-play” proposal……athletic scholarships. All colleges/universities (at least at the NCAA D-1 and D-2 levels) offer them. To me those scholarships (full or partial) serve as the “payment” for “services rendered” by the student-athletes.

Sticking to this New York themed scenario, the average annual cost to attend Syracuse University is $57,507. That’s paid-in-full (plus other costs) if you score a full-ride as an athlete. Ditto for a lower cost to attend the state-supported Buffalo State, where the tuition per semester costs $3,535 (plus $701 in other mandatory fees).

If you are an exceptional athlete in any sport at either of those fine institutions of higher learning, your costs are covered. Everyone loves a free education….isn’t that enough payment?

And don’t forget the fact that collegiate athletics – even at high-profile schools – are the last bastion of amateur sports left in the world. Tarnishing it with “pay-to-play” robs those young people the opportunity to perform for the simple love of their chosen sport.

Plus, introducing these student-athletes to cash for services rendered opens up a big can of worms….agents, bookies, and others who will resemble sharks in a blood-filled pool.

It’s my hope that the New York General Assembly will carefully weigh all the options of Parker’s proposed legislation and turn it down. Ditto for any other state considering the same thing.

Cal Bryant is the Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact him at or 252-332-7207.




About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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