Arkansas AD: It doesn't make sense that athletes can stay in school and make more money than in the pros

FAYETTEVILLE, ARKANSAS - SEPTEMBER 03: Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek of the Arkansas Razorbacks warms up before a game against the Cincinnati Bearcats at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium on September 03, 2022 in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The Razorbacks defeated the Bearcats 31-24. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images
Arkansas AD Hunter Yurachek was one of many school officials from the SEC who met with members of Congress on Wednesday regarding NIL rules. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Arkansas athletic director Hunter Yurachek says he has a hard time comprehending how college athletes can make more money by staying in college.

Yurachek is part of a group of school officials from the SEC who traveled to Washington D.C. to meet with members of Congress on Wednesday. The meetings are another step in the push for Congress to design federal laws to govern how athletes can make money off their name and image rights as the NCAA and its member schools struggle to come up with effective rules on their own.

In an interview with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette published Wednesday morning, Yurachek said that one of the things he wanted to talk about with members of Congress from Arkansas was how athletes are staying in school instead of turning pro because of the earnings opportunities available by staying in college.

"Young men and women are making decisions not to go to Major League Baseball or the WNBA or the NBA because they can make more money in college," Yurachek told the paper. "Does that make any sense, that you can make more money by staying in college than you can by going and being a professional athlete? That's where we have some issues in college athletics."

It’s a bit bizarre that Yurachek finds players staying in school longer as a potential downside of their ability to make money off their name and image rights. There’s been copious handwringing for decades about college athletes leaving early for pro opportunities. And now it’s a potential problem they’re staying because they can make money?

It’s also not all that surprising that some players can make more money by staying in college than by turning pro. The league average salary in the WNBA was just over $102,000 a season ago and myriad minor league baseball players make substantially less than that on an annual basis if they aren’t fortunate enough to land a sizable signing bonus.

Players should be commended for realizing their earning power as college athletes and taking any and all of the money available to them within the framework of the system. That’s capitalism at its most basic level and a principle that Yurachek and other athletic directors know very well. Administrators across the country have no problem handing out lucrative seven-figure contracts to coaches and many of them sign those same coaches to contract extensions they soon end up regretting. If college coaches' earnings aren't going to be subject to a cap, neither should players' endorsement income.