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50 Percent of Americans Support Compensation for College Athletes

CSU against San Diego State. Image credit: collegian.com

As the U.S. Supreme Court readies to review a case involving NCAA compensation limits, half of all Americans support allowing college athletes to receive compensation for playing college sports, according to a new Touchdown Strategies/ TechnoMetrica survey.

Among those who support pay for college athletes, 60 percent believe compensation or sponsorships should be capped to protect the amateur nature of college sports.

NCAA rules designed to protect “amateurism” limit both the benefits colleges and universities can give athletes, and the compensation athletes can receive.

College athlete compensation has received increasing attention in recent years. Several states, including California, Colorado, and Florida, have enacted legislation to allow college athletes to profit from the use of their names, images, and likenesses. Members of Congress – from both parties and in both houses – have introduced legislation related to college athlete compensation. And in December, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review a lower court case that found NCAA athlete compensation rules violate federal antitrust laws.

“College athlete compensation will be one of the hottest issues for the new Congress,” predicts James Davis, president of Touchdown Strategies.

“This is about fairness for many Americans who see college sports as a $14 billion industry with an exploited workforce, many from humble beginnings and who will never wear a pro-team jersey,” said Davis. “Others wish to preserve the heart and soul of amateur sports. The challenge will be: Can lawmakers navigate a Supreme Court decision and strong passions to find a solution?”

"The NCAA is a multi-billion-dollar institution built on the skills and sacrifices of college athletes,” said former U.S. Rep. Artur Davis (AL-7), a practicing labor and employment lawyer. “Conservatives who value market principles and progressives who value equity can build a winning coalition to change the status quo. The Supreme Court will address the antitrust issues but the core issue of what is fair for student athletes is a policy question for this upcoming session of Congress."

Among the survey’s findings:

  • 50 percent of Americans surveyed think college athletes should be able to receive compensation for playing college sports. 34 percent think they should not.

  • Among those who support student-athlete compensation, when asked which statement is closest to their views:

    • 40 percent believe athletes should be able to earn money through endorsements, sponsorships, and product licensing agreements that pay for the use of their names,
    • 24 percent think college athletes should receive a percentage of the revenues their schools receive from athletics, such as revenues from broadcasts,
    • 15 percent believe athletes should be able to have paid internships or apprenticeships with businesses, and
    • Only 15 percent believe athletes should receive salaries from their colleges and universities.
  • Among those who oppose compensation for college athletes, when asked which statement is closest to their views:
    • 40 percent believe it would destroy the amateur nature of college sports,
    • 30 percent do not believe there is a fair way to determine compensation that doesn’t benefit a few select athletes and sports programs at the expense of others, and
    • 11 percent believe paying college athletes would give external special interests influence over players and college football in general. 
  • 60 percent believe compensation or sponsorship of college athletes should be capped to protect amateurism in sports.

“While there are differences of opinion based on political party and ideology, these differences are not an unbridgeable chasm,” said Raghavan Mayur, president of TechnoMetrica. “There is a substantial base of support among African Americans (65 percent), Hispanics (62 percent), and young adults (18 to 25: 61 percent), which will help elevate the issue and drive a solution.”

About the Survey

TechnoMetrica conducted the online survey from January 6 to January 8. The nationwide study had a sample of 1,413 Americans, 18 or older. TechnoMetrica's network of panel partners provided the study sample. Upon the study completion, TechnoMetrica weighted the study dataset by gender, age, race, education, geographical region, and party to mirror known benchmarks such as the U.S. Census. The credibility interval (CI) for the survey is +/- 2.7 percentage points, meaning the study is accurate to within ± 2.7 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Americans been surveyed. Subgroups based on gender, age, ethnicity, and region have higher credibility intervals due to smaller sample sizes.

About TechnoMetrica

TechnoMetrica conducts the prestigious IBD/TIPP Poll, shown to be the most accurate presidential poll in the past five presidential elections.

Note to Editors:

Please attribute the results and findings of the survey to the Touchdown Strategies/ TechnoMetrica survey.


Please find crosstabs here.

Press Contact:

James Davis


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