Monday night, The University of Alabama won the national title in college football. The players walked away with the glory of a big win; their coach Nick Saban walks away with a $500,000 bonus.
Billions of dollars are in college athletics, but the actual players don't get a cut. The question is, should they?
Former Tampa Bay Buccaneer Martin Gramatica says yes.
"These coaches are getting $ 3 to 5 million ... and these guys can't even go buy a pair of tennis shoes," Gramatica said.
Before the NFL, Gramatica played football for Kansas State University. He received a full ride. He's thankful, but says tuition doesn't come close to the amount of money that college football brings in these days.
Gramatica also says many student athletes on scholarship struggle financially and there's no time for a job.
"You wake up at 6 in the morning, go lift weights, go to class all day. Then you have meetings, practice, dinner, study hall until 9, 10 at night, go to sleep then you start over the next day," he said.
But University of South Florida hockey player Andrew Silvers disagrees and says it's about the game, not the money.
"They're getting to play the sport they love, so for me that would be enough," Silvers said.
Other students agree.
"No, I don't think they should be paid, because they do get so many other benefits," said student Mallory White.
And USF student Lorenzo Perez raised the point that it's not just sports that bring in dollars to universities. He says research also brings in money.
"I don't think they should be paid because the overall objective of school is to get an education," said Perez. "Playing football is just a bonus to it."
However, USF physical education major Justin Saunders agrees with Gramatica. He says the question is just how to find a fair way to pay students.
"You don't want some of these small schools to be completely left out because they can't afford to pay the players like the big schools can," Saunders said.
Student Kevin Welborn says student athletes definitely work hard enough to earn a piece of the pie.
"Some bigger games like last night, I mean where's all that money going to? I'm sure it can be split up," Welborn said.
Saban's bonus is in addition to his $5.6 million salary.
"It's not that it's an easy job. They deserve to get paid for what they do, especially a guy like Saban. Look at the championships that he's bringing to the school and the millions he's bring to the school. I don't disagree with what they're making. I just think that without those players, Nick Saban wouldn't be the coach that he is," said Gramatica. "Without players, you're not going to win anything."
At one time, the NCAA considered giving student athletes $2,000 stipends, but the plan was put on hold.
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