IBJ Podcast: Is it time to abandon the ‘amateur’ model for college sports?

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California Gov. Gavin Newsome two weeks ago signed a bill into law that allows college athletes to profit from the use of their name, image and likeness. And the law expressly prohibits the Indianapolis-based NCAA, its member conferences and schools from barring players from doing so.

That’s a huge change for college sports, but it didn’t come out of the blue. Talk about how to compensate athletes—some of whom play a crucial role in driving ticket sales and alumni donations—has been building for several years.

Still, the NCAA has struggled to deal with the issue.

In this week’s podcast, host Mason King talks through the pluses and minuses for the NCAA, college athletes and universities with reporter Anthony Schoettle, who wrote a story about the impact of the California law in the latest issue of IBJ.

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2 thoughts on “IBJ Podcast: Is it time to abandon the ‘amateur’ model for college sports?

  1. I see both sides of this movement but am confident that this is much trickier than most folks realize and a very slippery slope to go down. A lot of unintended consequences can result from the decisions that will be made in the near future and I hope that some time is given to weigh a lot of different issues before rushing to a decision. “Progress” is a relativee term isn’t it?

  2. How can people get something like this so confused? This “controversy” applies primarily to men’s basketball and football. While other athlete’s could benefit from sponsorship, especially in sports that have trouble getting funding, it is the basketball and football area of men’s college athletics that this issue centers around.
    There are multiple interests involved since there are actually “Billions of dollars” at stake here. It is that very number that obfuscates the realities of what gets spent on what and who seems to think one part of the stakeholders is getting more than their “fair share.”
    While there are billions of dollars spent from revenue generated from TV and media coverage of these events, not to mention advertising etc.., the way this is divided and how much actually gets to whom is very unclear. To the untrained eye, it seems the schools and conferences and big name coaches are getting rich and the athletes that generate the money get nothing and indeed live like poor monks.
    For one thing, not all division one schools (and again this is whom we are primarily talking about) even make much money even with the TV money, ticket sales and the sale of sports paraphernalia. Most of the big bucks go to the schools that are part of the major conferences that have TV contracts with Network and cable companies. There are about 10 to 12 conferences that fit this description but only the top five (The SEC, The Big Ten, The ACC, The Big 12 and the Pac12 actually get the big bucks. Of this number (12 to 14 schools depending on each conference) each get their share. The top schools in each conference get on top of their TV money, ticket sales, which can be significant. On top of that there is sports merchandise sales and licensing too. The better a school is in men’s basketball or football the greater the sales and the greater the income. Of course not all schools, even in the big conferences are on an even playing field.
    Lets just say the money is not evenly dispersed amongst all the division one schools.
    If college sports become fully professional, then not all schools can pay everyone the same as they won’t all pull from the same pocket book. Now there could be some sort of “national fund” or rate of pay that could be agreed upon so that everyone would get the same but then you have this law from California that says the individual athletes can sell their own name for profit. Again not a level playing field. And of course this opens up all sorts of opportunities for those that wish to gain an advantage base on what could be either guaranteed or suggested to athletes as their compensation if you come to “their school.”
    Then there are the athletes that will only get paid a basic rate of pay. There will certainly be an impetuous to push one’s skills and fame in order to push their name up the ladder of celebrity for a better rate of return on the sale of their likeness or name. What will this do for team unity?
    How will the teams and conferences feel that are big money makers and get huge amounts of TV and media money that will see that diminished in order to “spread the wealth” for those schools that make little or nothing? How about revenue sports like men’s football and basketball versus non revenue sports that earn little or nothing and in many cases require extensive outlaying of expense to even put on? In all “fairness” those athletes will demand “their fair share.” Then there is Title 9 and the demand for equal opportunities for all sexes? The list is endless and goes on and on.
    Then again there is the enormous costs that get picked up by networks, shoe companies and schools themselves to provide not only the venues but the costs of transporting and providing travel and eating expenses for them and the telecasts themselves?
    There are huge costs and although you would have it told to you that the athletes get nothing but today most of the athletes do get some generous stipends as well as food and housing and educational expenses which for non scholarship students is quite valuable. While true many college athletes do not fully take advantage of that educational opportunity, the value, if used is a great value and benefit.
    Being put on a big stage to display your talents to future professional teams is of amazing value but is not widely discussed either. Can you imagine that some guy that plays in a “G” league team in pigs knuckle Arkansas gets the notice that a kid does that plays for UK or Kansas or Notre Dame or Alabama gets?
    It is that stage and all the money generated by these games that is at risk. We are playing with the notion of shooting the goose that laid the golden egg. That is what may ultimately happen if this all doesn’t come out right. Yes there will be pro leagues out there but only the athletes that are good enough to be in them will be able take advantage and a great many athletes that would not be able to get a college education otherwise, won’t
    And of those athletes that do go pro from say the age of 15 or 16 years of age without even a high school diploma? They will only be rich and successful as long as their skills last or they get hurt. You know like professional boxing now is.