Don Yee: College Football Players Should Be Paid

If players had listened to Don Yee, the national championship game between Clemson and Alabama would not have occurred Monday night. That’s because Yee, who represents Tom Brady, believes that boycotting a game of this magnitude would have brought about meaningful reform for college athletes.

In other words, it would help them get paid.

“I think one of the great things about educating yourself is helping to teach yourself to think critically and to think for yourself and to understand what your options are,” Yee said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “One of the unfortunate lessons I think some of these football players are learning in school is hypocrisy. And that is that they are expected to follow the dictates of their head coach and to participate in the games to raise an incredible amount of revenue, yet they’re not allowed to see all of the benefits of that labor. If we’re trying to generate productive citizens and put them back into society, I’m not sure that’s a good lesson to teach them. In fact, I think it’s a terrible business lesson to teach them. If any other typical student came up with a revenue-producing idea in conjunction with the university, I am sure the university would allow the student to enjoy the benefits of their labor.”

Yee, who wrote an editorial on this matter for the Washington Post, believes that the current system exploits a labor force in which a disproportionate number of black athletes are making a disproportionate number of white head coaches, athletic directors and administrators wealthy.

Very wealthy.

“I believe that all of the football players, if they’re helping produce revenue – whether they’re black, white, or some other ethnicity – all of them should see some fruit of their labor,” Yee said. “I believe that’s kind of a bedrock principle of the American economy and the capitalist system.”

Doug Gottlieb, however, does not necessarily agree. He believes that full tuition and, in many cases, the opportunity to go to college to begin with is an enormous value for student-athletes. After all, how many student-athletes will be able to get a degree and a job simply because football allowed them to be accepted to a university?

Answer: A lot.

“I agree with that,” Yee said. “I think that’s a great point. What I’m really trying to bring to the forefront of this: I believe none of the universities should be engaged in large-scale commercial enterprises such as college football and college basketball. I think the university’s core mission should be educating students. . . . I am for either the universities have to completely get out of large-scale commercial sports, or if they’re going to be in it, acknowledge that these people are making enormous sums of money for these universities, for the coaches, for the administrators and hopefully they can develop a better system in which to reward them for that matter.”

Yee, to be clear, has no problem with universities engaging in sports. He just doesn’t think they should make revenue as a result.

“Nothing prevents them for participating in it in a non-revenue manner,” Yee said. “In fact, most sports lose money. So they’ve already made the decision with respect to a lot of the other sports, the non-revenue-producing sports, that we still think it’s important to provide these outlets. In fact, almost every university yin the country also provides intramural athletics for all students. That doesn’t raise any revenue, but it’s a benefit to all the students.”

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