Craig Remsurg column: It’s time to pay college athletes

Longtime Syracuse University men’s basketball coach Jim Boeheim went on a rant this past week when it comes to paying college athletes.

“That’s really the most idiotic suggestion of all time,” he said at an annual Associated Press meeting of New York newspaper editors.

“I don’t believe players should be paid. I believe they’re getting a tremendous opportunity.”

The debate over whether to pay student-athletes first came out years ago when the NCAA – which bans such payment – penalized those athletes caught accepting money either from the university itself, through agents, a booster club member or other means.

It has gained steam lately with a number of bills and-or lawsuits pending in states across the country concerning the issue.

Athletes who say they can’t afford a pair of shoes or to buy a pizza believe universities making tons of money off their jersey sales, for example, should give them some money.

Universities counter the athletes are being provided an education with free tuition, room and board, as well as exposure for potential pro careers.

Both sides are right, of course.

Universities are raking in millions through ticket sales and player/team memorabilia without the athletes making such a practice profitable getting a cent in return.

But many players are also getting a free education, special training facilities and food, separate study hall sessions and tutors, if needed.

A bill being pushed in California – AB-475 – would guarantee athletes five years of scholarship money, cover the cost of summer school and give each student-athlete an additional $3,600 stipend.

Being old-school, it’s hard for me to go along with paying athletes. They get so much already the “normal” student doesn’t get.

But the NCAA has shown to be powerless in preventing illegal payments. It will only get worse.

And as long as major universities, in particular, continue to conduct their affairs as big businesses, their “employees” – aka student-athletes – should get a piece of the action.

As hard as it is to swallow, it’s only right.