Wednesday, December 9, 2015

All Work, No Pay

Photo Credit: Mike Bloomgren -

by Dustin Henry

As an aspiring sports professional, I have spent the past two years molding myself in preparation for potential job opportunities after graduation. I have interned for Alliance Sport Marketing and am currently a volunteer assistant in the recruiting off of the Football Department at a Division I FCS program. These experiences have impacted my career vision while also helping sculpt and grow my prowess in the sport industry. But, they have also taught me the how social sacrifice and low financial support are inevitable.

I have spent the past eight months volunteering in the Football Department at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) in hopes of educational and practical preparation to accept a Graduate Assistantship (GA) position this upcoming spring. While I perform and gain knowledge/experience in agreement for free, I sacrifice between 20-30 hours a week. Most say that is typical for an internship, but look at this from a graduate assistant’s perspective.

Graduate Assistant Perspective

What is a Graduate Assistant?

A football coach or sports administrator beginning their career in sports usually fresh out of college (undergraduate degree).

What does a Graduate Assistant do?

1. A graduate assistant must get accepted into a graduate program the school they will being assisting at.

2. They must attend full time graduate level classes

3. They work 100-plus hours a week for the football team, averaging around 15 hours a day, Sunday-Saturday.

What financial assistance do Graduate Assistants receive?

Typically, they receive a scholarship to cover their tuition (occasionally housing) and an incredibly small monthly stipend. You wondering what do I consider small? Talking to the graduate assistants here at MTSU, they earn $900 dollars a month to live off of. This averages out to $5.63/hour on a typical 40 hour work week. If we take the in-season hours, the GAs bring home $2.25/hour (100 hours in a week). This is the assistance of a Division I-A program.

One of the graduate assistants transferred in from LaGrange College (NAIA). He was compensated by the coverage graduate tuition and a $4,000 stipend for the entire calendar year.


Let’s look back at this. These college students go to school full time (don’t forget about homework and projects) and devotedly work 100-plus hours a week in the football office to earn a living of under three dollars an hour. The work commitment and sacrifice of these young men well outlast the assistance they receive by the school. These young coaches and sport administrators deserve a simple boost in their pay to support the work they provide for universities and colleges across the nation for extremely low pay.

The introduction of the “Cost of Attendance” scholarships presented to student athletes to help cover everyday necessities such as gas, school supplies and personal living needs would be a starting place for additional compensation toward graduate assistants.

Dustin Henry is a senior marketing major at Middle Tennessee State University.