The reasoning behind the argument, that athletes deserves more of the billions of dollars of revenue that the NCAA rakes in, has been a divisive issue, with some believing that athletes are fairly compensated with four-year scholarships, meal plans and on-campus housing. Now, the issue has trickled down to MSU.
MSU athletics director Mark Hollis addressed the media before the 2014 Spartan Academic Excellence Gala on Monday and weighed in on the debate, saying the focus on student-athletes functioning as students first is being lost. It would be a “sad day” if students-athletes were to become employees, he said.
MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon also spoke out on the issue, co-authoring a column earlier this month in the Wall Street Journal saying that the relationship between the university and the athlete would turn into an employee-employer relationship.
“We take excellent care of our student-athletes at Michigan State that I think we and many others strive and can do better in the future,” Hollis said. “Perhaps if that can come out of the conversations that are taking place at many different platforms, that can be a positive. To be employed, I’m not in favor of. That would be a sad day, I think, for college sports.”
The Spartan Academic Excellence Gala honored high-achieving student-athletes who excel not only in the classroom, but through community service as well.
Archie Manning, College Football Hall of Famer and father of NFL quarterbacks Peyton and Eli Manning, was the keynote speaker. Manning was present for the MSU men’s basketball game against Georgetown at Madison Square Garden in New York City in February, where he made contact with Hollis through Gatorade — Hollis serves on the company’s advisory board.
“I think it’s great on the part of the administration here, the athletic department, to really have a special night for your, not your outstanding athletes, but your outstanding student-athletes,” Manning said.
Head football coach Mark Dantonio called the event a “celebration” of athletes who exceed expectations academically, athletically and socially.
“That’s really what college athletics is all about,” Dantonio said.