Giving Additional Money to Student-Athletes Raises Questions

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COLUMBIA - Earlier in the year, Missouri football coach Gary Pinkel came out in support of providing extra money to college athletes.

"Our players are getting room, board, books and tuition, which is fine. They're going to get their education, which is important, but I also think we can give them additional money per semester or per quarter," Pinkel said.

With that one sentence in September, Pinkel opened one of the most sensitive topics in college sports.

"I'm not for paying players or giving them paychecks. I'm for giving them a little bit of additional money to help them function better," Pinkel said.

Not surprisingly, he has the backing of his players.

"Pay us man," Missouri Junior Receiver said. "Please. Pay us man."

"I'm all for paying players," Missouri Senior Defensive Back Randy Ponder said. "We're here year round. I mean we're always here year-round so we don't have time for no internships or nothing else."

Opponents say college athletes already receive enough. A full scholarship at Missouri includes tuition, valued at more than $22,2234 a year at the University of Missouri plus $800/year for books, $6,275/year for their dorm or apartment, $3,870 for food, $2,130 in course fees based on a median course fee of $71/hour and 15 hours/semester. Then another $1,000/year in Mizzou gear according to the athletic department. In all, it's $36,318.04 and doesn't include all the medical assistance, athletic trainers, coaching or tutors the athletic department provides.

The athletic department says the issue isn't "if" but "when" players will start receiving additional money.

"I think there's enough groundswell support for this concept that I think you will, down the road, see something happen," Chad Moller, Missouri's Associate Athletic Director said.

At least one non-revenue generating sport at the university is still not sold.

"I think there's really great things about it, but there's other things like the university gives them a full scholarship," Bryan Blitz, Missouri Soccer head coach said. "And there's different players from different backgrounds, so I think I'm right in the middle."

Some athletes aren't sure about paying sports other than football.

"Uhhhh.....oh that's a tough one... Yeah, I guess [other sports should get additional money] in some way," Missouri Freshman linebacker Michael Scherer said. "I think everybody puts in close to the same amount of work."

A USA today report showed only 23 of the 228 NCAA Division 1 public school athletic programs make a profit.

"Bigger budget schools. Does that give them an unfair advantage over smaller budget schools," Moller said. "And it would have to be the same for every school across the country."

Some argue athletes should be allowed to take advantage of marketing deals, but Darren Rovell, a sports business writer for ESPN recently tweeted less than 0.1 percent of athletes would be able to take advantage of that plan.

Legally, the University of Missouri can't sell the jerseys of any of its student athletes, so the jerseys sold in the Missouri's bookstore just happen to be the same numbers as James Franklin, Dorial Green-Beckham, and Henry Josey. Even if the NCAA changed its rules, would those be the only three players in Mizzou's entire athletic system that could profit?

The only thing certain about giving additional money to athletes is that there are plenty of unanswered questions.

"I think there are a lot of issues that you have to dig into and think about here because it isn't an easy issue," Moller said. "It opens the door to so many potential problems and questions."