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“Former [Montana State University] wide receiver Rick Gatewood was arrested this week on drug charges and is accused of using his athletic scholarship money to traffic cocaine from California in the Bozeman area.”(AP)

I am a ridiculously big college football fan (and I’ll try to curb that here) –however if there’s one opinion that’s been bothering me, it’s the vocal minority of people who think that, in addition to athletic scholarships and stipends, college athletes should be paid. Paid as though they were professionals and not amatuer athletes. I’ll stop short of saying the people advocating this are absurd –after all, the top echelon of the D-I/DI-A (top level) college divisions of football and basketball do show aspects close to professional sports, however they should still not be confused with professionals. In football, they are still developing as athletes; unlike basketball, there have seldom any top-college prospects who have the physical development to reach the NFL. In college they hone their skills.

The people who would pay them because the games are starting to look like professional sports forget its the schools that do the job of promoting their teams –first to alumni (since we tend to donate more when they do), and then to anyone else who will pay the school. The biggest factor they forget is that all major college programs are non-profit organizations that will take those funds and pour it right back into the students. The students benefit, the school benefits, and the system works. To pay the students individually would be selfish, waste money that could be used on the school’s athletic programs (most football and basketball programs pay for the rest of sport programs) and kill any semblence of the STUDENT-athlete. I feel that some of the people advocating salaries seem to have a ultra-pessemistic view over why some of these kids go to school, a surprising amount will never get to play pro-ball, and those are the ones that will benefit from a college education.

Contrary to popular belief, college athletes seem to be doing all right with their scholarships. Some of them can’t resist the temptation of extra benefits (by boosters or other nefarious routes), and you start to see that anytime one of these kids get caught, people from their school start to become advocates of paying the students to avoid these temptations –well I say those kids should man-up, learn to live on a “measily” amount of money and accept that it’s college life.

Today I read what I think should be the poster-child story for why college athletes seem to be doing just fine. Dateline: Bozeman, Montana. The head coach of Montana State (not even in the top divison) is fired because his student-athletes keep getting into trouble –the drugs and murder kind sort of trouble. In reading the AP article today, I read about the kid who finally forced the university to act (the quote that opened this post). If that’s not proof that the kids are able to make due with their scholarships (and become entrepreneurial), I don’t know what is.