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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The Battalion May 4, 2024

ESPN, NCAA reps to debate college athlete compensation

It’s a question that has led to a federal lawsuit and could redefine college athletics — should student athletes be paid?
The topic has spread across news outlets nationwide and led to a 2014 court case that questioned whether the NCAA was in violation of antitrust laws. There are arguments for both sides as to whether or not players in college sports should be compensated for their effort through paychecks, not just scholarships.
The topic will take center stage at a debate on campus between Jay Bilas, broadcaster from ESPN and analyst for “College Gameday,” and Oliver Luck, executive vice president of regulatory affairs of the NCAA. The two will visit College Station Tuesday to defend their views. The debate will be hosted by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, FIRE, and Aggie Agora, a center for facilitating public discourse and political engagement on the A&M campus. The debate is the first in FIRE’s four-debate series at colleges across the country. 

Bilas, who played college basketball at Duke and then went on to play professionally for the Dallas Mavericks in 1986, will argue that college athletes should be paid. Luck, who was a quarterback for the West Virginia University football team before going to the Houston Oilers, will argue against monetary compensation for college athletes. The debate will be moderated by Darryl Bruffet, KBTX sports director. 

Jennifer Mercieca, associate professor in the A&M Department of Communication, said at its core, the debate is a matter of defining the level of professionalism a college athlete plays at. 

“The issue of whether or not to pay college athletes is controversial because of the definition of what it means to be an ‘amatuer’ athlete and what it means to be a ‘professional’ athlete,” Mercieca said. “I think that how the debaters defend their positions on the question of paying college athletes has the potential to teach us things about how other definitional arguments work on controversial issues.”

Mercieca said this debate will offer students the chance to see hot topic issues discussed in their backyard.

“We hope that with this debate the A&M community will have an opportunity to see that controversial issues can be debated on our campus and in the public sphere in general,” Mercieca said. 

Molly Nocheck, program officer for campus outreach from FIRE, said the event is particularly relevant because sports are a large portion of A&M’s identity.

“With its many traditions, like the 12th Man and the First Yell, sports comprise an integral part of student life at Texas A&M,” Nocheck said. “Given Aggies’ enthusiasm towards college sports and their connection to the topic, we thought Texas A&M would be a perfect host for this debate.”

This will be the first installment in FIRE’s debate series. The debate will take place at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Rudder Theatre. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and admission is free. The debate will also be live streamed on FIRE’s website.

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