Just Pay Them Their Scholarship
Another argument for paying student-athletes is that the term "student-athlete" is a joke. Plenty of college athletes attend classes, graduate with honors, and go professional in something besides sports, as the NCAA is fond of saying. But what about the one-and-done players, the guys who are trying to "get this money," a la Ole Miss star Marshall Henderson?
Instead of giving them free school, just give them the cash equivalent. Don't make them go to class, don't make them live on campus - drop the pretense and pay them what you're giving up anyway. That way, if they want to go to class, they can pay for it themselves. They can support themselves fully at age 18, and start to learn how to manage money for later in their careers. A one-year $50,000 rental on a superstar recruit is nothing for a big-time college, and everyone benefits: the player gets exposure and cash, the school sells more tickets, the team does better, and the enrollment spot goes to a student or student-athlete who is actually there to learn.