Friend from law school sent me this on IRS official saying Universities paying athletes WOULD NOT change their tax exempt status:

An IRS official on April 20 said he thinks paying college athletes would be consistent with a college or university's tax-exempt purpose of providing education.

Peter Holiat, a tax law specialist in the IRS Tax-Exempt and Government Entities Division, said he was expressing his own views and not the position of the IRS. He spoke in Washington at a program sponsored by the Georgetown University Law Center.

Michael Repass, a tax law specialist in TE/GE, discussed tax-exempt organizations that earn unrelated business income but for some reason do not file the IRS form used to report that income.


Moderator James K. Hasson Jr. of Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP said the conventional wisdom is that if colleges and universities start paying their athletes, the revenue the schools earn from the games would be treated as UBI.

Holiat said Congress determined that college athletics are substantially related to a school's educational mission. Going to college is not just about academic work; it's also about intangibles, and sports build students' character by promoting camaraderie, sportsmanship, and teamwork, he said. He added that athletics also can boost a school's morale and bring students, faculty, and alumni together.

Therefore, Holiat said, a school's exempt function -- its educational component -- wouldn't be destroyed if it began paying some of its players. "Universities pay their coaches, they pay the groundskeeper; there's a lot of money being paid out and being generated by these activities," he said. "Paying some of their top players should not take away from the overall educational mission of the school."

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