An open letter to the NCAA

To members of the National Collegiate Athletic Association,

Thank you for everything that you do for college athletes across the country. Without this body, college athletics would not exist as a positive unified force, spanning college campuses. Your principle of required amateurism has recently been a source of controversy. Personally, I am against the policy.

As publicized on your website, the principle of amateurism erects multiple hindrances to the ability of a college athlete to move up the athletic ladder while participating in college sports. A few of your restrictions dictate that college athletes who wish to compete in the NCAA are forbidden from:

  • accepting a salary for participating in athletic competitions
  • playing with professionals
  • the privilege of being represented by an agent
  • Delaying full-time college enrollment for the cause of competing in sports competitions.
  • accepting prize money above actual expenses

I understand the reasoning behind these restrictions. As has been stated on numerous occasions by a representative of the NCAA, the purpose of enforced amateurism is to foster an academic environment where college athlete’s first priority is receiving a quality education. I agree with your intentions; however, I fear the outcomes of some of your policies have inadvertently harmed the athletes you passionately serve.

College athletes should not be restricted by amateurism regulations. The very definition of the world amateur lends itself to the argument that these regulations obstruct success. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines an amateur as “engaging or engaged without payment; unprofessional.” I am an amateur chess player. It is something I do for entertainment and personal enjoyment. I play without pay and do not receive benefits for my participation in events. A college athlete, on the other hand, is the exact opposite of an amateur.

Under the NCAA Division 1 20/8 college athletes are forbidden from spending more than eight hours a day engaging in required physical activity; however, I implore you to keep in mind the possibility of a high-handed coach requiring additional labor underneath the table.

For instance, the NCAA requires that mandatory strength and conditioning training be documented and reported underneath the Division 1 20/8 regulation. However, it is extremely easy for a bold coach to “suggest” to a young student that they have authority over that they begin every morning at the tracks on their own personal time. This young student would be compelled to engage in “voluntary” extra conditioning at the expense of his own health and education as the coach has the authority to ruin his athletic pursuits. Take into consideration the fact that this athlete is basically an unpaid laborer and it becomes apparent that the opportunities for corruption and abuses are vast.

It is also worth taking into consideration that the NCAA has a built-in market, as well as a near monopoly on the pathway young athletes, can take to become professional athletes. Think about how the NFL only drafts from college football teams. While this ensures that every NFL player has at least a partial college education it also gives the NCAA indirect control over who is eligible to be drafted by the NFL. This is not a criticism, I admire the NCAA for taking on this burden.

I will admit that the NCAA has come a long way since its inception in 1906 to providing college athletes with the benefits and opportunities they deserve. Before 1948, NCAA refused to allow college athletes to accept scholarships. This was a colossal injustice which I am proud to give credit to the NCAA for rectifying. The NCAA has also made other steps to curtail the power that self-interested boosters have over athletes.

I compliment NCAA President Mark Emmert that allows universities that compete in Division I to provide their athletes a $2,000 stipend in addition to the usually available benefits. There is still more that needs to be done for our athletes however and I hope you will continue the excellent work of facilitating college athletics.


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