By a three-to-one margin, most Americans oppose paying college athletes, according to a new national survey conducted by the Saint Leo University Polling Institute. The survey comes as a U.S. Federal Court in California hears arguments in a class action suit brought by former UCLA star Ed O’Bannon, and after Northwestern University football players conducted a vote to be recognized by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) as a union (results of the vote have not been released).

“Thinking about college athletic programs … at many big-time colleges, the men’s football and basketball teams make a lot of money for their schools. Which of the following statements comes closest to your view?” (N=1016 – all respondents, not just likely voters)

66% Giving athletic scholarships and the chance to earn a college degree for free is fair compensation for college athletes, and they should not be paid.
21% College athletes deserve to be paid for the time they spend practicing, traveling, and playing, above and beyond the value of any scholarships they might receive.
13% Don’t know—unsurel


“It is inevitable that some Division I student-athletes will soon receive additional compensation above their current grant-in-aid awards,” said Phil Hatlem, instructor of sport business at Saint Leo University. “However, there are many aspects still to be determined, including who will receive additional compensation – all full-scholarship student-athletes or only those in ‘revenue producing’ sports? – and in what form that compensation will be – a monthly cash stipend or something else?”

“Like the Olympics, which were once so strongly against any form of payment for athletic endeavors that Jim Thorpe was stripped of his track and field medals simply for having played semi-pro baseball, but now allow professional athletes to compete, college athletics will adjust,” continued Hatlem. “Yet the NCAA leadership is intent on maintaining their current structure. It will be interesting to see whether we will recognize college athletics in a few years as we know it today,” Hatlem concluded.

The Saint Leo University Polling Institute survey results about national politics and policy can be found here: You can also follow the institute on Twitter @saintleopolls.

About the Saint Leo University Polling Institute/Methodology

This Saint Leo University national poll of 1,016 people, including 802 likely voters, was conducted between May 28 and June 4, 2014. The margin of error is approximately three percent +/- with a 95 percent confidence level. The Saint Leo University Polling Institute conducts its surveys using cutting-edge online methodology, which is rapidly transforming the field of survey research. Sample is drawn from large online panels, which allow for random selections that reflect accurate cross sections of all demographic groups. Online methodology has the additional advantages of allowing participants to respond to the survey at a time, place, and speed that are convenient to them, which may result in more thoughtful answers. The Saint Leo University Polling Institute develops the questionnaires, administers the surveys, and conducts analysis of the results. Panel participants typically receive a token incentive – usually 50 cents deposited into an iTunes or Amazon account – for their participation.

About Saint Leo University

Saint Leo University is a regionally accredited, liberal-arts-based institution known for an inclusive Catholic heritage, enduring values, and capacity for innovation. The school was chartered in 1889 by Catholic Benedictine monks in rural Pasco County, FL, making Saint Leo the first Catholic college in the state. Over its 125-year history, Saint Leo has provided access to education to people of all faiths, emphasizing the Benedictine philosophy of balanced growth of mind, body, and spirit.

Today the university welcomes learners from all generations and backgrounds, from civilian occupations and the armed forces, and from all 50 states and more than 60 nations. Saint Leo’s 16,000 undergraduate and graduate students may elect to study at the beautiful University Campus in Florida, at more than 40 teaching locations in seven states, or online from other locations. The university’s degree programs range from the associate to the doctorate. Throughout these rich offerings, Saint Leo develops principled leaders for a challenging world.

Media Contacts: Kim Payne, staff writer and media coordinator, at or (352) 588-7233/(717) 798-1508 or Jo-Ann Johnston, academic communications manager, at or (352) 588-8237/(352) 467-0843.