Don’t pay college athletes

Discovering that you are going to be a grandparent for the very first time is, to coin an often overused term-priceless.

That will be the case in late December when my son Coleman and his wife Jody expect to bring a new baby girl into the Butta household.

Thoughts already have started swirling in my head over the things that ‘grandpa’ and his new bundle of happiness will get the opportunity to do over the years.

Being a huge sports fan that also means introducing her to my world of going to, and cheering for, my favorite teams, especially the Mountaineers.

Images of taking her up to meet some of my favorite players and watching her ask for, and receive, autographs from those gifted athletes is something I think every parent, and grandparent, can relate.

But, wait.

Thanks to the action of some individual players and the constant drum-beating by some media members that college athletes should be paid, by the time the newest member of my family is old enough to ask for an autograph, the picture probably will include her going up to that player, handing him an item to sign, and then forking over a crisp, $20 bill as he returns the item to her.

That’s the direction some on the national media circuit would have college athletics headed.

And, I don’t think they have really thought out the whole “pay-to-play” scenario.

College students, for the most part unless they come from well-to-do families, struggle during that four, five or even six years they spend working towards a Bachelor’s Degree in their selected field.

How many people do you know that are still paying back college loans long after they stepped off of their alma mater’s campus? It’s not fair, but it is something a student understands prior to enrollment unless he or she is fortunate enough to receive an academic scholarship or is gifted enough in athletics to receive money to continue to play at the next level.

And, let’s not forget, athletes ‘are’ paid.

They receive free tuition, board, textbooks and food. I wonder how many non-athletic individuals would give up one of their multiple parttime jobs to trade places with one of them?

Individuals like ESPN’s Jay Bilas need to understand that there are ‘pay-to-play’ opportunities for athletes.

They are called the NFL, NBA and MLB. The latter two have a developmental or minor league program where aspiring athletes can hone their skills while earning a living.

Athletes that are upset over colleges making money off of their names or even their ‘likenesses’ can take advantage of the professional circuits. The individual training to be a surgeon can’t.

Then, again, maybe it’s time for me to look into new pastimes.

I doubt if my granddaughter would need a pocketful of cash if we went fishing or hunting.

Contact Jim Butta at