There are two groups of college athletes. One group, in non-revenue sports like track or soccer, are receiving an excellent deal from their institutions. They can receive an education and possibly even room and board in exchange for competing in a sport that does not earn any money for the institution. The other group of athletes, those participating in revenue sports, are receiving a terrible deal. Though they are getting the same thing in return for their services, they are earning their institutions millions of dollars. Colleges are taking advantage of football and basketball players by earning money on their labor without financial compensation.
No, I do not think college athletes are taken advantage of. I think the relationship between the athlete and the college is mutually beneficial. The athlete receives a stellar education, often free, and the college receives the accolades and media attention that are part of the college sports play offs. The athlete will be scouted by professional teams, and the college will receive increased alumni attention and donations, besides the money they make from each sports event.
College athletes are being given a chance to attend a university that could have been out of their reach. They're experiencing a level of education that may not have been available, or they are receiving a discount for playing sports. Beyond the education benefits, they're also being advertised to professional sports teams every day. By having their games broadcast on any level, they're generating publicity for their futures. Every athlete that gets picked for college has a better chance at making it to the pros in the end. Since that's the end goal for many, it would seem that this is just the next step in their path. Getting a good deal on the education on the way helps give a backup plan if the sports career doesn't work out.
I do not believe college athletes are taken advantage of. I believe college athletes forget why they are in college and I think a lot of sports fanatics forget as well. College athletes are often given what we call a "free ride" during college. Which is a large and expensive gift. If they think they are being taken advantage of then they should join professional teams and not go to college.