Democratic senator: Scholarships do not adequately compensate college athletes

Democratic senator: Scholarships do not adequately compensate college athletes
© Stefani Reynolds

Scholarships extended to college athletes are not adequate forms of compensation because the education provided is often sub-par, according to a new report from Sen. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyCongress barrels toward debt cliff End the practice of hitting children in public schools Public option fades with little outcry from progressives MORE (D-Conn.).

“The argument people always make against compensating college athletes is that their compensation is the education they receive. But what if they’re getting cheated out of that opportunity and not really receiving an education?” Murphy said in a statement Thursday.


The higher education system frequently “robs these athletes of their shot at a real education” through academic fraud, unworkable schedules or being forced into “easy pass” coursework, according to the report, Murphy's second on the topic.

“The NCAA is broken, but many universities are at fault as well. Student-athletes should get an actual chance to be students, rather than treated as money-making commodities,” Murphy added.

The report takes aim at the NCAA’s Graduation Success Rate, a standard the association developed in 2002 to assess the percentage of student-athletes who graduate. The measurement incorporates the high rate of athletes who transfer during their collegiate career.

However, according to the report, the measure inflates the success rate by counting when athletes transfer schools in good academic standing but not always tracking their success at the next school. The report found that while more than 23,000 athletes transferred in good standing, the NCAA only accounted for about 8,000 who went on to enroll in different schools.

In other words, the report states, about 15,000 students either dropped out or did not return as athletes.

“These athletes did not graduate, but the numbers account for them as if they did — painting an inflated picture of academic success,” the report states.

The NCAA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The report is the second in “Madness Inc.,” a series on student athletes from Murphy’s office that began in March. The first one called for student athletes to be compensated, outlining how the NCAA enriches nearly everyone else involved in its operations.

“The NCAA needs to come up with a way to compensate student-athletes, at least in the sports that demand the most time and make the most money. It's an issue of fairness. It's an issue of civil rights,” Murphy said in March.