Dear President Emmert and President Hatch:
As student-athletes, we support the collegiate amateur model and the efforts that the NCAA and membership institutions/conferences are taking to protect the welfare and college experience of student-athletes. The current model for collegiate athletics brings together the collective interests of the NCAA membership institutions and conferences as well as the student-athletes that represent them. This model extends to men and women that come from diverse backgrounds and represent various areas of academic pursuit. From pre-med to journalism, football to tennis, this model provides a foundation for the realization of the holistic student-athlete experience.
Currently, this collegiate amateur model includes a structure of governance and procedures that serves as the backbone of college athletics. These procedures help to guide the decisions made by coaches, college administrators, and student-athletes, to ensure that we get the most out of our college experience. Our experiences as student-athletes allow us to work collaboratively with the NCAA and its membership to strive to create the best environment for collegiate athletics. Student-athletes have always had and will always have a voice in the collegiate model. Over the past 25 years, this voice has grown in leaps and bounds as student-athletes will have representation at every possible level of the new governance structure.
College provides student-athletes nationwide with the opportunity to lay the educational and personal foundation that will serve us for the rest of our lives. The value of an education can never be overstated. We are privileged that while attending these institutions, we have the opportunity to play sports that we love in one of the most unique arenas and settings in the world. What makes college athletics in America special has and always will be that the student-athletes that make up these teams are not at these institutions for solely athletic opportunities. They are there to earn a degree as much as they are to play in a packed stadium. It is a privilege to have a young boy or girl come and ask us for an autograph. It is a privilege to have our fellow students come up to us in-between classes and talk to us about our last game. Never has this privilege necessitated financial compensation, and never will it. Our amateur model is not perfect, but it’s not broken. Can we continue to do more to provide our student-athletes with better resources to succeed academically and athletically? Yes. Can we continue to improve the student-athlete experience for the men and women that wear our school colors? Yes. However, it is wrong to assert that student-athletes are owed anything for these privileged opportunities to learn, to grow, and to compete academically and athletically while people watch.
As stated by Kirk Cousins, Michigan State University 2007-2011, at the Big Ten kickoff luncheon, “And it's here, in this place of privilege, where perhaps danger lies. I have been taught that human nature is such that the "place of privilege" most often and most naturally leads to "a sense of entitlement" . . . the notion that I deserve to be treated as special, because I am privileged. The truth is . . . privilege should never lead to entitlement. I've been raised and taught to believe that privilege should lead to responsibility; in fact, to greater responsibility.”