Recognition of college athletes as employees

Subject: Recognition of college athletes as employees
From: Ben Plemons
Date: 15 Nov 2023

To Senator Tommy Tuberville

I am writing you this letter to advocate the rights of college athletes. Since you have recently introduced bills with Senator Machin regarding NIL rules and regulations, I thought you would be the best person to contact about this issue. Currently student athletes are not considered employees (Henson, 2023). I think that all college athletes should be considered employees of the university they attend. College sports have become more about money, yet athletes are still not compensated as much as they should be. Without student athletes, many people would lose a ton of money including university, advertisers, and TV channels. Student athletes should be able to negotiate their own deals with the people who make money from using their name, image, and likeness.

One of the primary reasons why college athletes should be considered employees is so they can get fair compensation for the efforts they put into their sport. Players make a lot of money for the NCAA and universities but only get scholarships in return. Many players still pay for things like rent, bills, and groceries. 86% of college athletes live below the poverty line (Arnold, 2018). This means that most athletes will have a tough time affording their daily necessities. Even with NIL deals, some of these athletes may need to get other jobs, while the NCAA and universities make a ton of money from these athletes. In 2019, division 1 college athletics programs made 15.8 billion dollars (Park, 2023). College athletes are not able to get any of this money. Instead, college athletes must rely on non-profits or private companies to get NIL deals. For many of these athletes, these NIL deals do not make them enough to pay for everyday expenses. If college athletes are considered employees, they could negotiate wages from their employer, being the universities. Universities make so much money from things like tickets sale that they can easily afford this. Rather than just giving out scholarships, student athletes would be able to make money the same way any other employee makes money.

Another reason college athletes should be considered employees is the risk of injury. Division 1 college athletes receive basic care when it comes to injuries during games and other practices that occur during a school sponsored event, however student athletes still might have to pay major out of pocket expenses when they get hurt (Stigile, 2023). If college athletes are considered employees can negotiate deals with their employer before they start playing their sport. They could also negotiate their wages, which would allow them to afford better health care if they want it. Playing college sports increases your chance of injury. Almost every football game that I watch, I see a player get injured and it sometimes ends their season and their athletic career. Since a lot of these athletes are below the poverty line, they may not be able to afford the proper medical care that they need. Athletes put themselves in harm's way every time they go out on the field, and they should be able to afford the best treatment for themselves.

Another reason college athletes would benefit from being considered employees is that they could form unions to get large media deals. NFL players have the NFLPA (National Football Legue Players Association). The NFLPA provides representation for all players in the union when negotiating media deals. This union is responsible for making things like the madden video game series happen. The NFLPA negotiates deals for all players in the game so they can all be paid since the game uses the names, images, and likeness of each player (National Football League Players Association, 2020). There once was a college football video game series that was extremely popular. A new game would come out every year and many people would buy the new copy every year. The last game to come out was in 2013. If college athletes could form a union, they could make a deal with a videogame company to make another game with all the players. This would allow all college athletes to profit from the game. They may not make a ton of money from it, but some athletes could use the extra money. Athletes could also make money from jersey sales. Companies sell jerseys with players' names and numbers on them, and they could be able to make a little bit of money from each sale of their jersey, which would really add up. It is only fair since these companies are using the athletes' names to make money.

I hope that you will consider college athletes employees in the future. This adjustment would allow athletes to be compensated fairly for the money they bring into each university. It would also greatly benefit the athtletes on a personal level.

Thank you for your time and consideration regarding this issue.


Ben Plemons

Work Cited

Arnold, C. (2018, March 20). Scholarship athletes or cheap labor - Christopher Arnold - Medium. Medium.

Park, J. (2023, June 19). Ranking college sports programs by revenue: Ohio State, Texas lead the way. Fan Nation. Retrieved November 13, 2023, from

Stigile, A. (2023, January 20). Opinion: NCAA insurance plans inadequate for football players. The Arizona State Press.

National Football League Players Association. (n.d.). How the NFLPA Works. NFL Players Association.,monitors%20retirement%20a...

National Football League Players Association. (2020, May 28). ELECTRONIC ARTS, THE NFL AND THE NFLPA ANNOUNCE A GROUNDBREAKING MULTI-YEAR GLOBAL PARTNERSHIP. NFL Players Association.

Henson, A. (2023, July 21). Are Student Athletes Considered Employees Under the Fair Labor Standards Act? | Hiring To Firing Law Blog. Hiring to Firing Law Blog.