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Should college athletes be paid?

10:32 PM, Apr 3, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. --  Tickets to college games, jerseys and sports memorabilia make schools across the country a lot of money, but the players don't see a dime of it.

A lawsuit that's gaining steam in California could change all that.

This started with a video game-- players were upset that characters who looked like them were making money, when they weren't seeing a profit.

A judge in California ruled that players have the right to go after everyone who's making money off college sports, including the colleges themselves.

"Playing in the big times here is enough of a reward, and I have a passion for football," said Freshman Offensive Lineman Kevin Battle.

Battle just wants to get out and play for Jacksonville University.

"Getting an education, and a chance to get a degree. I just soak it up, that's my reward," he said.

Battle has been an athlete for as long as he can remember. He said the chance to play at this level is all the compensation he needs and his coach, Kerwin Bell, agrees.

"It's a pure form of athletics, you're not getting paid, it's not a business," said Coach Bell.

But a lawsuit filed against the NCAA by former college athletes is serious business.

Filed in California, the lawsuit argues that college athletes deserve to be compensated fairly for their work. That could mean anything from profit sharing to a straight salary if the former players win the case. But it's a proposal Coach Bell says smaller schools, like JU can't afford.

"I'm sure some of those guys at the top, the SEC guys, Florida, they might want to do that because it might give them an advantage over everyone else. But you can't realistically think that schools in the NCAA can make that happen," he said.

Some big names in college sports think it might.

Athletic Directors across the country have penned editorials telling people there's a good chance paying college athletes could happen. Some former players think it's about time.

"At the end of the day, it's a job. You're bringing in major revenue for the college," said former FSU player Atrews Bell.

Bell played for FSU when they won the national championship in 1999. It was a victory that brought in major revenue.

"The school took home $14 million dollars a game. And I just remember taking home a $500 dollar bowl package, and uh, and a thank you letter," he said.

While the thank you letter was thoughtful, Bell said it wouldn't have hurt to get a share of that profit.

If this lawsuit is successful, current players could realistically get a cut.  Freshman Kevin Battle isn't holding his breath for that payday. 

"If I have a chance to make it to the big times, great, but if I don't, I know I played my heart out in all my year's playing,' said Battle.

First Coast News

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