As March Madness begins, Tenn. lawmaker wants state schools to explore paying athletes

Orange & White Nation
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NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE – MARCH 17: Jordan Bone #0 of the Tennessee Volunteers shoots the ball against the Auburn Tigers during the final of the SEC Basketball Championships at Bridgestone Arena on March 17, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Some Tennessee lawmakers want state colleges and universities to explore possibilities of paying their athletes because they are like “indentured servants.”  

Those words come in a Senate Resolution filed last Thursday by Republican Sen. Brian Kelsey of Shelby County just as the SEC men’s basketball tournament opened in Nashville.  

The idea of paying college athletes often seems to come up this time as tens of millions of Americans focus on what’s called the “March Madness” of the NCAA men’s basketball championship. 

“I just think we are really exploiting these athletes and its really terrible,” Sen. Kelsey told News 2 on the day he filed the resolution. “Some of these players are clearly worth millions of dollars to our university sports programs and they (colleges) will end up selling their jerseys for the next 20-30 years and these players are getting zero dollars from these sales.” 

It’s well known that big-time colleges and universities have long made lots of money from their football and basketball programs, but the players receive only what an athletic scholarship allows which is generally tuition along with room and board. 

Kelsey’s resolution called collegiate student-athletes “little more than indentured servants.” 

If passed, the resolution instructs Tennessee’s nine state universities “to work with their respective athletic conferences in opposition to the NCAA prohibition on the compensation of student-athletes in proportion to the revenues they generate.” 

Representatives of Tennessee’s nine state universities chose not to comment on the Sen. Kelsey’s resolution.  

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