WNBA commissioner has her doubts about paying college athletes

Paying college athletes may not be as good an idea as it may sound according to one pro sports commissioner.

California lawmakers altered the landscape of college sports this week with their decision to allow NCAA athletes to receive payment for endorsement deals.

WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert said in an interview with FOX Business’ Maria Bartiromo, that college sports are largely driven by fan bases where people follow their teams “because they’re not paid athletes, and it isn’t diluted by all the endorsements.”

But others in the pro ranks don't agree. NBA star Draymond Green admonished the “dictatorship” of the NCAA, and NFL star Richard Sherman argues the NCAA is a corrupt “bunch of people taking advantage of kids, and doing it under the mask of fair play,” reported FoxBusiness.com.

Engelbert sympathizes with both sides of this issue, however, she believes “the jury is still out on whether this is the right move.”

Moderating notions that the organization takes undue advantage of student-athletes, NCAA schools award nearly $3.5 billion in athletic scholarships annually and provide players with education off the field and further development in their sport.

The NCAA attests student-athletes graduate at higher rates than the larger student body and are provided with programs intended to help students transition to their post-collegiate lives.

To Engelbert, this issue is largely “about a fan base, especially a student fan base,” emphasizing smaller Division I school's reliance on these loyal fans.

In response to California’s new law, the NCAA released a statement saying the organization “agrees changes are needed to continue to support student-athletes, but improvement needs to happen on a national level through the NCAA’s rule-making process.”


Engelbert affirms that this is “a complex issue where economics comes into it for the school, for the player, and for the fan base as well.”