Mar 16, 2022 - Sports

Survey: About half of Americans support paying college athletes

Percentage who say colleges should pay their athletes
Data: Marist Poll; Chart: Baidi Wang/Axios

Roughly half of American adults believe colleges should pay their athletes, according to a new survey from the Marist Poll.

The intrigue: The responses vary widely by age, race, ethnicity and gender — a reflection of the rapidly-evolving debate about amateurism and wide-ranging definitions of what it means to be a college athlete.

  • Age: 70% of 18-to-29-year-olds are in favor, but that number drops dramatically the older respondents get, with just 29% of the 60+ demo in favor.
  • Race/ethnicity: 69% of both Black and Latino respondents are in favor, compared to 34% of white respondents.
  • Gender: 54% of men are in favor, compared to 39% of women.

The big picture: Now that college athletes can earn money off their name, image and likeness, it's opened up the conversation about a possible next step: paying some of them directly.

  • An advocacy group filed a labor complaint last month asserting that FBS football players, plus D-I men's and women's basketball players, should be viewed as employees.
  • "One way or another, I feel like it's more of a freight train now," the group's executive director, Ramogi Huma, told CBS Sports. "No one can explain exactly how it's going to unfold, but the direction is clear."

State of play: March Madness — when victories earned by athletes directly result in money for their schools — provides an ideal backdrop for pondering this reality.

Go deeper