89 Percent of College Varsity Athletes Think NCAA Takes Advantage of Student Athletes

Fair compensation of student-athletes is a topic that doesn't seem to be going away anytime soon, and with pressure mounting on the National Collegiate Athletic Association, college students agree that athletes could be getting a raw deal.

Student athletes at the collegiate level are compensated for their talent through scholarships that alleviate the financial burden of higher education. The question has been raised, though, as to whether athletes are being treated fairly, given the demands of playing a sport and the revenue they generate for their school.

Senator Chris Murphy recently criticized the NCAA, the governing body for college athletics, for defrauding student athletes by giving them a chance at an education, but not holding them to high academic standards and allowing them to graduate with useless degrees.

"Unfortunately, the NCAA and many of its member schools too often care more about the appearance of educating athletes than they do about actually educating them," Murphy wrote in his second "Madness, Inc." report on NCAA practices in July.

On Friday, College Pulse, a data and survey analytics company, released an opinion poll of more than 2,500 college students across the country and their thoughts on the treatment of student athletes.

Of the students polled, 41 percent strongly agreed that the NCAA took advantage of student athletes and 43 percent somewhat agreed. In total, 84 percent of students found the NCAA's behavior exploitative.

ncaa poll take advantage college athletes
The NCAA logo on the field before the Division I Men's Soccer Championship between the Maryland Terrapins and the Akron Zips held at Meredith Field at Harder Stadium on December 9, 2018, in Santa Barbara, California. On Friday, College Pulse released a poll that found the majority of students thought the NCAA took advantage of student-athletes. G Fiume/Maryland Terrapins/Getty

This number was higher among varsity athletes, at 89 percent. Only one percent of varsity athletes strongly disagreed and seven percent somewhat disagreed. The majority of students participating in club sports, 85 percent, also agreed, and even 84 percent of those who didn't play a sport supported the statement that the NCAA took advantage of student-athletes.

Percentages varied based on gender, but only slightly. Non-binary students most strongly agreed at 93 percent, followed by male students at 86 percent and female students at 82 percent. Newsweek reached out to the NCAA but did not receive a response in time for publication.

Lawmakers at the state and federal level have also proposed bills allowing college athletes to profit from their name and likeness. Currently prohibited by the NCAA, as it would mean an end to the amateur athlete status that is required to participate in college sports.

When asked if athletes should be able to profit off their likeness through activities such as jersey and poster sales, 77 percent of students polled said they should. An even higher number of students, 80 percent, responded that students should be paid if their name or image was used in a video game or to sell merchandise.

The poll reflected Senator Murphy's comments during a July panel discussion on student athlete treatment. "When student-athletes are being used as commodities to make money for adults, and not being compensated or rewarded for the work that they do, that's a fairness issue," the senator said, adding, "That's a civil rights issue."

In March, the NCAA announced it was forming a working group to consider modifying rules to allow athletes to be compensated for their name, image and likeness. The group's report was mandated to present its final report to the association's board of governors in October 2019.