Sophomore Tyrone Young can recall a time where he weighed the pros and cons of being a student athlete.
“After a game on a Saturday night, it’s almost 10:00 and the cafe is closed,” the football player said, remembering the times he had no food in his dorm. “I would have to ask my relatives to send me money to get something to eat.”
Hungry nights in the dorm are a harsh reality that is common for many college athletes.
Due to regulations set by the National Collegiate Athletic Association, institutions are prohibited from providing athletic scholarships that cover all the costs associated with attending a college or university.
The rules allow scholarships and grants to include tuition, room and board, and books.
That means there is no such thing as a “full ride” scholarship for college players.
In fact, according to ESPN, out-of-pocket expenses for a “full” scholarship athlete ranges from $1,000 a year to $6,904 a year depending on the institution, forcing many students to either take out a loan, or as former UNC Pembroke football player, Brandon Connor, has seen, take up odd jobs to make up that deficit.
“When athletes don’t get [compensation], they usually start selling drugs or doing crazy stuff just to make the money that they need,” said Connor, who ended up leaving the team due to issues with the coaching staff.
“God Himself could not have made me stay and play for that team,” he added.
Both current and former players under the NCAA have decided to take a stand against their unjust rules.
In 2006, former Stanford football player, Jason White and others sued the NCAA alleging that the “limits on athletic scholarships constituted a form of anti-competitive price collusion that violated anti-trust law.”
In a settlement before the trial, the NCAA agreed to increase funds to compensate former athletes by $10 million.
However, it’s unclear how many former athletes benefited from the settlement because the NCAA wasn’t compelled to publicly reveal how much it paid out, but the full amount of money was not distributed.
In addition to White, former UCLA football player, Ramogi Huma, initiated and has led the movement for the rights of college athletes’ after witnessing the NCAA suspend his teammate for accepting a bag of groceries when he had no food, and after learning that the NCAA prevented UCLA from paying medical expenses for players that were injured during summer workouts.
Huma has launched the National College Players Association (NCPA) where they advocate for college athletes’ rights, as well as the College Athletes Players Association (CAPA), where he is the founder and president.
According to the CAPA website, in the 15 years of his fight for players’ rights, Huma and NCPA successfully sponsored a Student-Athletes Bill of Rights in the state of California.
The law requires colleges to pay for their athletes’ sports-related medical expenses, prohibits them from taking scholarships away from athletes permanently injured in their sport, and requires them to extend scholarships up to one year for former players whose teams have low graduation rates.