I was fortunate enough to go to the NCAA Convention in Washington, D.C. a couple of weeks ago with a group of my classmates. As many of them have already expressed, it was an amazing opportunity not only to network, but also to listen to the major issues that are currently occurring in college athletics.
A major theme throughout the weekend was the need to address rising commercial activity within intercollegiate athletics. The State of the Association Address focused on this issue and the need to find the right balance–a balance that ensures that the principles and values of higher education are not compromised.
That got me thinking a lot about the topic of whether student-athletes should be paid. Although this was not specifically addressed in the state of the association speech, I think that it is an indirect side effect of increasing commercial activity—it seems that in some ways commercial activities have contributed to an altering view of the student-athlete. The focus is being placed more on the athlete in student-athlete than on the student in student-athlete.
I am in complete agreement that some commercial activity is necessary and that it has been a critical driver in generating revenues for athletic departments. Without it, facilities, salaries and the overall well-being of the department would suffer. However, I think increasing commercial activity has also blurred the meaning and mission of a student-athlete.