July 23, 2004

zero to 15 million in 0.01 seconds

NPR's Morning EditionI'm not a huge NPR fan. Oh sure, we like to listen to Car Talk and that kind of thing. But I'm an NPR fan kind of the way that I'm a fan of Italian food. Sure, I'll consume it, but only if it's convenient and I feel like it. Plus, like Italian food, I know that if I'm not prepared for it, it could come back to haunt me. Regardless, the best thing about listening to NPR is that it makes me question absolutely everything I hear on the station... and sometimes it leads me to interesting conclusions.

Iowa Hawkeye logoThis morning on the way in to work, I was listening to Morning Edition and they had a story about how a HUD loophole in the Section 8 housing rules made it possible for college athletes to live virtually rent-free. In Iowa City, IA, people were complaining that the rent-subsidized housing project near campus was almost half full of Iowa football players, basketball players and volleyball players. The gist of the problem is that the rules are supposed to encourage residents of Section 8 housing to go to school and gain better sources of income, so while they're living there, school-related expenses are deducted for their eligibility. That makes even kids from middle class backgrounds eligible for the housing because the school costs offset the majority of any income they would have.

Robert GalleryAt the end of the story, they mentioned that the most famous recent resident in the complex was probably Robert Gallery, who was signed as the #2 pick in this year's NFL draft by Oakland. His signing bonus alone will be in the neighborhood of fifteen million dollars.

I know the point of the story was to make me think, "oh, what a travesty... that someone with that much earning potential is usurping an apartment from someone who really needs it..." but I had a different tangential thought. Why the heck are we not paying our student athletes?? If I can go to college on a scholarship and be in a work study program, why can't an athlete do the same? Granted, it could escalate rapidly if allowed to do so, but the NCAA could easily create guidelines that would be governed by salary caps, individual salary and benefit maximums, housing guidelines, etc. If anything, it should be considered because Robert Gallery is going zero to 15 million in 0.01 seconds.

Even the student athlete that ends up going on to be a high school football coach has an infinite jump in income. Why not compensate them for the millions of dollars that they bring in for the universities?

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