I was doing my morning perusal of Bloodyelbow.com, my source for all things MMA, kickboxing, wrestling, and other combat sports, when I stumbled across a piece discussing some of the issues of athlete pay we're all familiar with. The gist is that following Logan Stieber's third national championship (with a shot at title number four next year), he earned recognition as one of the very best around, and the university even payed out a $18,000 bonus for his work, dedication, and sweat. Except he didn't get the cash, Gene Smith did.
Of course, I'm not trying to bash Smith or tOSU, because these sort of incentives are common in any university. However, it illustrates how poorly the athletes do financially in light of what they do for the various universities. It still perplexes me how the NCAA can justify allowing Urban Meyer to make $4 million before bonuses, while only 9.9 scholarships are allowed for a wrestling team of 39 athletes. And just to reiterate, it's not that tOSU chooses to only award that number of scholarships, that is the limit enforced by the NCAA.
It's imbalances like this that make me question the whole model of amateur athletics. The entire system is perplexing because, to steal from an idea from a certain German Jew, the athletes own the means of production, but somehow they still aren't profiting from it. Now they receive scholarships, yes. But if those 9.9 scholarships were distributed evenly among the team, each athlete would receive about a 25% scholarship. And of course, they can't work, sell autographs, forfeit the rights to the likeness, etc., and they give these things up for the opportunity to compete for a full scholarship, which, by the way, won't cover living expenses. For a personal perspective on the issue, scroll down in the linked piece to a comment by T.P. Grant, who was an athlete at tOSU.
I know we've all heard arguments on all sides of this issue before and I doubt anything here will change a mind, but I had to share my thoughts when I saw this piece, and hopefully it and I will have brought more attention to the problem.