Don't kid yourself, Division I football and basketball aren't amateur sports. If you want to see amateur student-athletes, you can go to any little-league game and enjoy an amateur sports game. Amateur hour left the moment a TV station said, "Hey, I would like to pay you to broadcast the game" and someone said yes. Even before the ink dried the game was changed. CBS ( CBS), Time Warner Cable ( TWC), News Corp ( NWS), and ESPN ( DIS) pay billions of dollars for broadcast rights. Nike ( NKE) gives the University of Minnesota $1 million a year worth of products including shoes, uniforms and golf balls for the privilege of having the Nike logo on uniforms. The athletes actually wearing the logo receive almost nothing for implicitly endorsing the brands that they are required to wear? The students didn't change the game from amateur to professional, the schools did, so don't blame the students, they weren't even invited to the negotiating table.
"But the athletes are receiving a free education."
Yes, many of the Division I players are receiving a so-called "full ride," but that supports my case that they are not amateurs. They receive room, board, and whatever classes they manage to study between the grueling practice and game schedule. If we agree athletes are receiving value for playing, we should all agree it's no longer little league or a hobby. And don't tell a student trying to live off-campus or eating a meal outside the dining hall that they are receiving a full ride. Students have expenses beyond tuition and books, so let's dispense with the full ride fantasy while we're at it. The real question isn't if players offer value others are willing to pay for; it's a question of who receives the payment. Next time you're watching a college game on TV, look at all the people working, everyone but the players are receiving their fair share. Donald Remy, the NCAA Chief Legal Officer wrote in response to a lawsuit brought on by players "...In particular, we would lose the very real opportunity for at least 96% of NCAA male and female student-athletes who do not compete in Division I men's basketball or FBS football to play a sport and get an education, as they do today." Intuitively this argument appears to have merit. After all, it's reasonable to theorize if colleges are forced to pay a fair share of money to the ones who drive the revenue; it's less money the school can use to pay for other programs.