Pay for Play?

Should Luke Walton get paid to play basketball for the University of Arizona?

If you share the mindset of several lawmakers and politicians in other states, then you probably think he should.

Nebraska Gov. Mike Johanns has said he supports a bill, sponsored by state Sen. Ernie Chambers, that would pay University of Nebraska football players $3,749 per player, per year--in addition to their scholarships. (Only football players would be paid, not basketball players--at least for now.) That works out to federal minimum wage ($5.15) for 728 hours per year. The legislation would only take effect if three other states with schools in the Big 12 Conference passed similar legislation.

To my knowledge, the Arizona Legislature is not considering anything similar.

This raises a question that comes up every so often: Since major-sport athletes like Luke Walton and Nebraska football players bring in millions to their schools, then shouldn't they get paid?

But they already are getting paid. The costs of higher education are huge, and many athletes--in big-money sports and smaller-money sports alike--get their education for free. Not only that, but athletes at the bigger schools, like Arizona, get a forum to showcase their skills--and if they're good enough, use it as a springboard to a pro career.

That's why efforts like the one in Nebraska are off-base. College athletes are getting paid. And if scholarships and exposure aren't enough--well, I don't know of very many high school athletes (people like LeBron James excepted) skipping college sports. Therefore, it must be enough.