Should college athletes get paid? - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

Should college athletes get paid?

JACKSON, MO (KFVS) -

Should college athletes get paid for their talents?

Football players at Northwestern University want to form a union: The College Athletes Players Association.

Players are working to make it officials and some already signed union cards.

"The same medical issues that professional athletes face, are the same medical issues that collegiate athletes face except we are left unprotected," said former Northwestern quarterback Kain Coulter.

He said that's exactly one of the reasons players there think they should be paid to be an athlete in college.

The NCAA responded with a statement:

"Donald Remy NCAA Chief Legal Officer This union-backed attempt to turn student-athletes into employees undermines the purpose of college: an education. Student-athletes are not employees, and their participation in college sports is voluntary. We stand for all student-athletes, not just those the unions want to professionalize. Many student athletes are provided scholarships and many other benefits for their participation. There is no employment relationship between the NCAA, its affiliated institutions or student-athletes. Student-athletes are not employees within any definition of the National Labor Relations Act or the Fair Labor Standards Act. We are confident the National Labor Relations Board will find in our favor, as there is no right to organize student-athletes."

But the National College Players Association said:

"There is no question about it - college athletes are fortunate. We have been given an opportunity to get an education while playing sports that we enjoy.

However…Just because we are fortunate does not mean that we should not try to minimize risks and secure basic protections.

The NCAA tries to convince us that we have little, if anything, to complain about because we are getting a "free ride" through college. This is not true. Our scholarships are not free - we WORK for them.

The following explains how college athletes EARN an opportunity to get a college education:

Year-round strength and conditioning workouts.

Countless hours per week of mandatory participation in a sport (hours per week greatly increase because "voluntary" activities are performed).

Injuries and surgeries that are endured throughout an athlete's career.

Risk of permanent physical disability and death.

Generating billions of dollars from TV contracts, ticket sales, etc.

Giving national exposure to our schools.

College athletes do not get a "free ride." Our education definitely has a price. Hard work and high risks are the trade-off for our scholarships. We should not have to keep quiet while being subjected to unethical conditions."

"My initial opinion would not be for it," said Jackson High School Football Coach Brent Eckley.

He said athletes are already getting paid in an education, and shouldn't need additional money.

"There's money that comes into them it's not big money, it's not professional money, but again they're not professionals, they're collegiate athletes," Eckley said.

A spokesman for the SEMO athletic department said they're monitoring the discussion, and are always committed to the well-being of their athletes.

Mario Moccia, the director of athletics at SIU, said he understands the players perspective and what they want to do, but doesn't know how that would actually work in real life.

Moccia said it is positive that student athletes are taking interest in what affects them.

Copyright 2014 KFVS. All rights reserved.

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