Tough Decisions: To Stay a Student or Make Millions?

downloadI don’t have any strong college sports allegiances, but I follow March Madness and NCAA football. One of my favorite things is when a student-athlete decides to stay in school for another year.

I’m not exactly sure why. Part of it is school spirit–I think it’s near when a student-athlete wants to come back and do more for his/her school. Part of it is that I think student-athletes get more game time in school than they would in a rookie or sophomore year, so they’ll develop more as an athlete. And part of it is that you only get to be an undergrad once, so you might as well enjoy it.

However, I understand that many of these athletes are tempted to leave early by the allure of millions of dollars. Now there’s a website trying to address that issue.

I read about FanAngel on ESPN the other day, and I love the concept. The idea is that you can earmark funds for a student-athlete to receive if they remain in school and play another year. You can name any student-athlete–this isn’t a matter of students campaigning for their own funds, which would go against NCAA regulations.

Like I said, I’m not super passionate about any particular school, but I could see this being huge for fans with strong allegiances. People make huge donations all the time to university sports programs–why not channel those funds more directly to the athletes themselves?

The way it works is if you want quarterback Bob Athlete to stay in school another year, money is taken out of your FanAngel account and allocated to that athlete. If Bob decides to go pro instead, you get the money back. But if he stays for another year, when he finally graduates, the funds are released to him to use as he wishes.

I have a feeling the NCAA will find a way to block this site, but for now, I love the idea. What do you think? Are you passionate enough about any particular college sports program to want to pay student-athletes to stay in school a little longer?