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PLAY FOR PAY 7b[WZ_d]iY^ebWh_dj^[Ó[bZie\ifehjiXki_d[iiWdZbWm"7iieY_Wj[9IEC :[WdMWhh[dPebWY^_c[i_dedj^[fheif[Yje\ijkZ[dj#Wj^b[j[Yecf[diW# tion in the NCAA.


By Bill Stoll / Assoc. Sports Editor

ver the last several years one of the most pressing and contro-­ versial issues in college athletics is the notion e\ÇfWo#\eh#fbWoÈm_j^h[]WhZijeD977 athletes. This concept is more easily [nfbW_d[ZWij^_i0j^[h[Wh[cWdom^e believe that Division I NCAA athletes, particularly those who play in revenue generating sports such as football and men’s basketball, should receive mon-­ etary compensation for their services. However, this concept is highly divisive as many argue that athletes already re-­ ceive thousands of dollars in compen-­ sation in the form of tuition, room and board, health services and more. While there is much debate about whether or not to pay college athletes _d j^[ Óhij fbWY[" j^[h[ _i Wbie ckY^


BC Gavel

Yedjhel[hio WXekj ^em [nWYjbo je fWo these athletes. The ideas are varied and wide-­ranging, with some thinking that college athletes should be paid ac-­ cording to their free-­market value, and others holding the idea that a modest ij_f[dZ i^ekbZ ik¥Y[$ Ij_bb ej^[hi Wh[ less concerned with the colleges them-­ selves paying their athletes directly, believing instead that athletes should receive monetary compensation for the use of their likeness in things such Wil_Z[e]Wc[i"`[hi[oiWb[i"WdZWkje-­ graphs. To delve into this issue, I enlisted in j^[^[bfe\Wd[nf[hjedj^[ikX`[Yj$? sat down with Professor Warren Zola, the Assistant Dean of Graduate Pro-­ grams in the Carroll School of Manage-­ ment at Boston College. Professor Zola ^Wimh_jj[d[nj[di_l[boedj^[YedY[fj

of student-­athlete compensation, and his articles can be found in media out-­ b[jiikY^Wij^[>k¥d]jedFeijehj^[ Sports Law Blog. For the purposes of this article, here-­ after my questions will be noted with j^[fh[ÓnÇ8IÈWdZFhe\[iiehPebWÊiWd-­ im[him_bbX[dej[Zm_j^WÇMP$È7bie" please note that anything in a question inside parenthesis has been added to the article after the interview was tak-­ en for the convenience of the reader. BS: First question is an easy one, do you support the concept of paying student-­athletes for their participa-­ tion in college athletics? WZ: Well I’m not sure if it’s an easy question. It depends upon how you de-­ Ód[fWo$J^[h[ÊiWlWh_[joe\mWoi

September 2013

to pay athletes for compensation, and, a lot of debate about what that amount should be. I would argue that they are already paid with tuition, room and board, and a bunch of other items as m[bb$  8kj ?Êl[ ]ej W Z_¢[h[dj b[l[b Wj which I think they should be compen-­ sated, if that makes sense. BS: Alright, in an ideal sort of sce-­ nario, what would be your perfect system for athlete compensation? WZ: I think that there should be some recognition of the revenue that the players, and primarily football and men’s basketball are generating, and thus I believe that they should be com-­ pensated to a degree greater than they already are, which would be full athlet-­ ic scholarship. I think that the way to do so would be to close the gap between full cost of attendance and the athletic scholarship to compensate those ath-­ letes. I also think that we should follow the Olympic model where college athletes retain the rights of publicity and their ability to market themselves. I also think that they should get full medi-­ cal insurance, disability insurance etc. among other things. But primarily closing that gap be-­ tween full athletic scholarship and cost of attendance seems to be a minimum standard to provide them. BS: So for example there’s the case in the courts now about someone who is suing because the EA sports video games use the players’ likeness but they don’t receive any compensation for that, so do you think that would be a good way to compensate the play-­ ers? WZ: I think that that is clearly one mechanism in which college athletes should be compensated. I also fully anticipate that the courts over time will support that claim. I think it will be successful or at least there will be a settlement, closing the case. Because

there is no legal avenue that I’ve seen that supports the NCAA’s position or EA Sports position that they can’t com-­ pensate those players. BS: (In December 2011 and January 2012, the NCAA governing board con-­ sidered a proposal which would have granted a $2,000 stipend to those who were receiving full athletic schol-­ arships. While the proposal had some support, it ultimately was rejected.) What is your opinion on the idea to give students a $2,000 stipend, the YedY[fj j^Wj mWi ÔeWj[Z WhekdZ _d 2011? WZ: Well I think the reason that they came up with the $2000 stipend was that was a ballpark amount that would close the gap between full athletic scholarship and cost of attendance. It’s probably close to $3,500, but the intent was to allow colleges to provide enough money to college athletes that allows those players to do things that all the other college students could do. Ie_\"\eh[nWcfb["j^[h[_iWijkZ[dj who receives a drama scholarship or a full academic scholarship, not only do they get tuition and board, but they get additional money to cover all the oth-­ [h [nf[di[i j^Wj eYYkh WdZ \eh m^Wj-­ [l[h h[Wied" j^[ D977 ^Wi Z[Ód[Z that amount to be a violation of their policies, and the $2,000 stipend was intended to close that gap.

And so I certainly supported it, the NCAA membership voted it down, and that’s part of the legal case is whether or not (they) have a right to cap that moving forward. BS: You’ve previously stated that schools with big football and bas-­ ketball revenue receiving programs Wh[ fheÓj_d] e¢ j^[_h fbWo[hi \h[[bo without compensation. What do you say to those who argue the players receiving thousands of dollars in com-­ pensation through the form of free tuition, room and board, and advan-­ tages over the average student such as special facilities, tutors, preferred academic advantages, etc.? WZ: Clearly college athletes are re-­ ceiving some compensation. I was a Division III athlete, and a poor one at that, and I would have loved to have received tuition or admission among ej^[h X[d[Óji$ J^Wj X[_d] iW_Z" m^o athletes could receive less than other scholar students on campus is some-­ thing I don’t understand. All of these restrictions on their abil-­ ity to generate revenue are unique to athletes. So if a student decides to have a music career they can get a mu-­ sic scholarship from a university, get a full cost of attendance, perform on the weekends at a night club, get paid to do that, sell their music, print out a CD, and no one thinks of them any less of

Boston College: Pro Model Breakdown Football

$21,674,975 46.5% $10,078,863 85 $118,575 $55,528 $63,047

in revenue


share to players for athletes players on team per athlete value of scholarship shortfall

$4,997,434 50% $2,498,717 13 $192,209 $55,528 $136,681




WijkZ[dj"j^[oÊh[`kijYWf_jWb_p_d]kfed their talents and that’s what this econ-­ omy is based on. For some reason, a nineteen-­year-­old athlete who can play football or shoot a 3-­pointer is restrict-­ ed from doing that, and I don’t think that’s fair. BS: You have said in the past that you think the NCAA doesn’t com-­ pensate players based on their free market value. Would you advocate for sort of a free-­market system?

But I’m opposed to free markets, I think we need to retain college ath-­ letes as students, and I think that this is a model that I’ve proposed that makes some sense without an entire free mar-­ ket system. BS: Really when we talk about pay-­ for-­play athletes, the conversation is geared more towards football and men’s basketball. Do you think that the stipend should be more focused towards those students that generate the most revenue, or should it be ap-­ plied to all Division I scholarship-­re-­ ceiving athletes?

ij_f[dZ$  ? j^_da iY^eebi YWd W¢ehZ _j$ And some schools may decide not to compete at that level and revert back je W :_l_i_ed ??? ceZ[b eh e¢[h b[ii sports, than that should be their pre-­ he]Wj_l[ Wi m[bb" Xkj `kij X[YWki[ _jÊi Z_¥Ykbj je _cfb[c[dj Ze[idÊj cWa[ the moral arguments or the legal argu-­ ments any less compelling.

BS: One of the problems that I per-­ sonally see with schools providing an additional stipend to Division I players is that I could see a scenario in which WZ: No, I mean I think that there is a schools with larger endowments, variety of ways at which you can com-­ schools with more funds would gain pensate college athletes and at one a much larger advantage in recruiting end of the spectrum is doing absolute-­ WZ: I think that that’s something up over smaller schools that couldn’t af-­ bodej^_d]ehcWoX[j^[[n_ij_d]ceZ[b for debate. I think that clearly those are ford to pay. The NCAA said that only that we have, and the other end of the j^[jmeifehjij^Wj][d[hWj[i_]d_ÓYWdj 57% of FBS schools generate enough spectrum would be entire free market revenue for college athletics. There are revenue to cover expenses, so they competition. ej^[hifehjiWjif[Y_ÓY schools that do wouldn’t be able to pay such a stipend Ie _\ oekÊh[ W ,Ê-È b[\j jWYab[ Yec_d] that as well, baseball, hockey, lacrosse, or any additional costs. out of high school, All-­American kid, women’s basketball at some schools, then let the bidding begin and you may and I think there can be a sliding scale WZ: Well, number one, I don’t believe get some crazy salary. I’m not a fan of about how we allocate these dollars, those numbers, I think there are a vari-­ that system, that’s why I like the pro-­ but there is no doubt that Title IX will ety of ways for schools that are set up posed system that I’ve got, the full cost play a role and if schools have to pro-­ Wi ded#fheÓj eh]Wd_pWj_edi m^e YWdÊj of attendance. There are some people vide this additional stipend or close the i^emWfheÓj"ie_\WiY^eebZ[Y_Z[ije out there that talk about free market, cost of attendance gap for all athletes pay its coach $4 million a year to coach there’s others that talk about free mar-­ who receive a full scholarship, I’m okay their football program and then say ket with salary caps at conference or with that. “geez we’re not making money’ well you school levels, but I think it’s clear we There’s nothing wrong with all men’s can shift money from a coach to the need to do more than we’re currently and women’s basketball players receiv-­ players generating the revenue. doing. ing a full athletic scholarship to get that But I also think that we already have


BC Gavel

September 2013

Warren K. Zola, Associate Dean of CSOM M.B.A., Boston College J.D., Tulane University B.A., Hobart & William Smith Colleges Member of the Massachusetts Bar

these varying levels of competition for high school recruits. If you look at facilities, if you look at invest-­ ment by various schools or con-­ ferences of particular programs, we already have vah_WdY["WdZ`kij because some schools may not be WXb[jeW¢ehZjeZe_jZe[idÊjcWa[ it any less of a moral imperative or legal requirement. And I think there probably are more schools competing at the upper echelon that probably shouldn’t be or may not be able to ÓdWdY_Wbbo$?\m[^Wl[\[m[hiY^eebi at that level, I’m comfortable with that as a byproduct of actually compensating those who are gen-­ erating that revenue. BS: Alright, so one last question. The NHL and Major League Base-­ ball, they have a system where players are drafted at a younger age and then they have a farm system or they can participate in college athletics if they choose to do that instead. Could you see

maybe a system like that working for the NFL or the NBA? Is that something you would support? WZ: Yeah absolutely, I think those models make a lot of sense. I don’t think the way those leagues are constructed it will happen. Certainly not in football, but I think basketball, in the past it has been argued for a system like baseball or like in hockey where you are draft-­ ed out of high school and you can decide to go pro or not, if you don’t the team retains your rights and you can do whatever you want. I think that system is fairest to the athletes. The problem is that we have collective bargaining in pro-­ fessional athletics, and not every union cares as much about their fu-­ ture members, so when they come down to negotiate over rights and dollar allocations, they often will think about current members over their future members, which is their prerogative.

7i9^_[\Ef[hWj_d]E¥Y[h" Zola is charged with “provid-­ ing strategic direction and integration of non-­academic and operational functions for the graduate manage-­ ment programs, including the ÓdWdY_WbcWdW][c[dje\Wbb XkZ][jiWdZWijW¢e\(*$È A frequent contributor to the >k¥d]jedFeij"j^[Ifehji Law Blog, and the Harvard Journal of Sports & Entertain-­ ment Law Information Courtesy of



Pay For Play  

By Bill Stoll

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