Wednesday (Feb. 3) is National Signing Day, the first day that a high school senior can sign a binding letter of intent to play college football for an NCAA school. It is a day celebrated nationwide by college football fans, but actor/producer Wendell Pierce doesn’t feel that way.
“Proud of the young men signing today. They are great athletes and students that have developed their talent. But feels like an auction block,” writes Pierce on Twitter.
He goes on to compare it to a day at a New Orleans’ slavery exchange in 1802 and says that these future NCAA stars should be paid, contingent on graduation. Though he later adds that only athletes who generate revenue should be paid, which are basically football and men’s basketball players.
“Researchers in science departments keep the proceeds of their discovers [sic] at college, why not football athletes? … Put there [sic] portion in escrow. If they graduate, they get their share. If note [sic], the University keeps it,” writes Pierce. “No degree is the equivalent of generating 100M every year.”
He also suggests there be a National Signing Day for academics as well.
The reactions to the tweets are mixed. Some call him “ignorant” and point out that “items being auctioned have no control on where they go,” which is “not the case with these athletes.” Others are cheering his sentiments and say the athletes should be paid.
Former college football player Michael Bayer says he “respectfully disagrees” with Pierce and says paying athletes gets into a myriad of issues, like equal pay across positions within the sports, different sports and gender, plus the majority of D-I colleges and universities actually lose money on athletics. Bayer offers up a compromise of giving athletes college credit for athletic participation, to which Pierce responds, “Keep your credits, give me my money.”
Pierce adds that programs that don’t make money should “reexamine their TV contract and business model” and that the athletes should be paid “proportional to what [they] generate.”
What do you think, Zap2it readers? Should NCAA athletes be paid?