Paying college athletes raises questions about Title IX compliance

By MIKE REED, NEWS3 Reporter

MACOMB, Illinois – There have been recent talks about paying college athletes through name, image and likeness contracts. One concern is the ability to be in compliance with Title IX gender equality rules.

“If students are being recruited to use their NILs, as brand ambassadors, technically the college isn’t paying them. Because we are not the ones providing the income, it shouldn’t matter to Title IX,” WIU Title IX Coordinator Stephanie Kinkaid said. “But I also know that will, eventually. There will be some sort of litigation. Someone will sue a university at some point and say that there are more opportunities for male athletes than there are for females.”

In a survey by the Associated Press that was sent to 99 athletic directors, one AD wrote, “Sharing revenue with student-athletes is not feasible. That only works if universities are then absolved of Title IX requirements.”

“I think they’re on to something, but I also think that might be an easy way out. By saying if you absolve us of this responsibility, we’ll be fine,” Kinkaid said. “I don’t think we should ever be absolved of that responsibility. It is our responsibility as educators to make sure all genders are represented in our colleges.”

In a survey of 70 college athletes conducted by NEWS3, 40 responses were used. Fifty-five percent were male and 45 percent were female. When asked if student athletes should be paid, 65 percent said “yes,” 28 percent said “no” and 7 percent were unsure. When asked if contracts will affect Title IX, 53 percent of the participants said “yes,” 30 percent said “no” and 17 percent said they were unsure. There was a wide range of sports represented in the survey. Thirty-three percent were football players, 13 percent were baseball players, 10 percent play soccer, 7 percent were basketball players, 5 percent play softball, 2 percent play volleyball and 30 percent play other sports.

The WIU Athletic Director’s Office could not be reached for comment.