College football players are often elevated to celebrity status because they serve as representatives of both their team and their university. Colleges spend a significant amound of money during the recruiting process, ensuring themselves a star team for the upcoming season. While college athletes do not receive paychecks from the university, the perks are often overwhelming.
First and most basic, the university often offers fully-funded athletic scholarships to approximately 80 percent of its players. What this means is that the university waives the cost of attendance to the student-athletes deemed most promising in the upcoming season.
It is important to remember that these athletes receive their scholarships for the full five-year eligibility, despite all other outside factors. So from the start, college football players are receiving preferential treatment regarding the financing of their education.
Another significiant factor aiding in celebrity status of college football players is the aid which they receive. Above and beyond their fully-funded tuition, these students often receive additional stipends. These stipends are doled out based on ability (not need) and are intended to cover the costs of books and other school supplies.
Further aid is often granted to college football players by outside sources, such as grants, scholarships and unspecified funding. It is fairly common for the most gifted players to actually earn money during their college football career.
The most notable reason for college football players to be treated as celebrities is the media coverage. Football games are often broadcast on local television stations. Further, championship and bowl games are broadcast on ESPN, a national station, and can be seen by viewers nationwide.
The most gifted players tend to be interviewed individually, often release press conferences and some even have agents. By having agents and media contracts, these college players are often treated much like a member of the NFL, without the large salary contract.
Last but certainly not least important is the scouting process. The most highly acclaimed college football players are often tracked by NFL scouts hoping to recruit them to their national teams after graduation. Some of these college football players enter the NFL draft, hoping for a chance at true celebrity status after they leave school.
Because the scouts consider these athletes to be most highly coveted, the students in turn consider themselves special amongst their teammates. Because the NFL is the next logical step in the careers of these college football players, the media assigns them celebrity status, which trickles down to the local community as well.
College football players represent a small percentage of the university's population, though they contribute a large percentage to the financial gain of the institution. Football games, booster clubs, and apparel sales help to fund the university as a whole. Because of their help in funding the university's growth and expansion, college football players are considered celebrities among their peers, communities and the media as a whole.