The NCAA on Tuesday took the first step toward creating (or, really, accepting) a world where college athletes are allowed to take cold, hard cash simply for being college athletes and not ruin their eligibility. The organization left itself no choice following the efforts of many politicians across the country, primarily state politicians in California.
And if you’ve spent any time at all discussing this issue in a public forum, the dialogue has usually folded itself into one of two streams: “Well, good, they should be able to get a cut of their own jersey sales,” or “Well, if they’re going to get paid like a grown-up they should have to pay taxes like a grown-up! See how they like their scholarship then !!!” In fact, that argument has played itself out in the comments section of this very website countless times, and will no doubt spawn again in the comments of this article.
And on Tuesday afternoon, the latter of those arguments sprung to life in the form of Senator Richard Burr (R-NC).
“If college athletes are going to make money off their likenesses while in school, their scholarships should be treated like income,” Burr tweeted. “I’ll be introducing legislation that subjects scholarships given to athletes who choose to ‘cash in’ to income taxes.”
Understanding the $300 Skill Player X accepts for promoting College Bar Z on his respective social media channels will itself be taxed, it’s never quite made sense why said college athlete would then have to pay taxes on his books, his apartment and his meal plan and all the myriad other benefits college athletes receive in exchange for being really good at sports. It likely doesn’t make sense to Burr, other than some people don’t like to see power and freedom extended to people who didn’t used to have it.
For what it’s worth, Burr’s idea is not going over well. As of press time, Burr’s tweet is being firmly “ratio’d” — with 4,000 replies and climbing against only 200 retweets. More importantly, it hasn’t been echoed by any other politicians, either in statehouses across the country or in Washington. In fact, Rep. Mark Walker, who shares a home state and a party with Burr and was the first Congressman to formally bring the issue to Washington back in March, struck an entirely different, non-retaliatory tone in his statement.
What will truly kill Barr’s misguided mission is when Duke, UNC and NC State boosters who also contribute to Burr’s reelection campaign call his office and say, “Hey, bud, no one wants this, so can you just not?”