Skip to comments.LET THEM ENDORSE! A Simple Solution to the NCAA "Pay for Play" Issue
Posted on 04/16/2014 7:22:10 PM PDT by dignitasnews
As the furor over compensation of college athletes continues to heat up across the nation, a number of different proposals and options have been explored. Last month members of the Northwestern football team stepped the debate up by successfully petitioning the National Labor Relations Board to form a union and bargain for benefits. The issue was further highlighted when Shabazz Napier, star of the recently crowned NCAA Mens Basketball Champion University of Connecticut Huskies, told reporters that sometimes he goes to bed starving because he cant afford food.
While the NCAA has been adamant in its policy to not monetarily compensate athletes for playing sports, they did offer a fig leaf of sorts today when their legislative council approved a proposal Tuesday to expand the meal allowance for all athletes. Far from settling the issue, proponents of "pay for play" have taken to the airwaves with further calls for compensation, viewing the move as a sign that the NCAA fears public sentiment moving to the side of the players.
As is the case with most debates in our nation, both sides make some valid points. On one hand, the NCAA is justified in its desire to maintain the integrity of college athletics and correctly point out that most NCAA participants are provided a full scholarship, which can and has changed the lives and brightened the futures of millions of young people in our nation. Advocates for the players are also correct when they point to the billions of dollars in revenue that universities rake due to the popularity of college sports and the athletes who participate.
There is a very simple way to preserve the notion of the "amateur athlete" and still provide these young men and women an opportunity to capitalize on their public appeal without directly paying them to participate in what is, after all, an extra-curricular activity.....allow them to commercially endorse.
This is an option we've heard little about in the public debate of this issue but seems to be a workable solution. Not only will it provide student athletes with a legitimate revenue stream, but could very well have collateral benefits far beyond the direct issue. It certainly will present many challenges and potential problems, but will be advantageous to players and universities alike, and not simply the traditional powerhouses and higher profile sports.
For many college athletes, their college years are a brief window in which their marketability and "name brand" is at its peak. The vast majority NCAA players will not go on to a career in professional sports and while they are adored during their "one shining moment" most will fade into the obscurity that we all live in, possibly to appear in a "where are they now" episode at best. Just to name one example, many of us recall (I'm dating myself) Keith Smarts incredible performance and game winning shot in leading Indiana University to the NCAA championship against Syracuse in 1987, but today his image and likeness wouldn't sell too many products outside of Bloomington, where he still enjoys a near god-like status. Had he, however, been able to announce to the world that evening that his next step was to go "to Disneyland" he could have earned a tremendous amount of money to put toward his future. Now, Smart is no charity case as he has worked his way up the coaching ladder and still well known in the sporting world, but for "one shining moment" he was known to the entire nation as the skinny kid who stole the spotlight away from Steve Alford and hit the shot every kid dreams of.
There are Keith Smarts every year in the major sports. And for the college athlete who may not go to a Top 20 school or play in one of the more popular sports, their college years also provide opportunities which, under the current system, cannot be capitalized on. The mens Water Polo star or ladies Lacrosse champion at a local university may not have the name recognition to sell Nike's or Chevy's, but their likeness is certainly marketable in their local area. Maybe its simply running a spot for the popular pizzeria in town, but this is money in their pocket, something every college student could use more of.
While the players have a legitimate grievance in that the university is making fist-loads of cash from their efforts, it is fair to say that the "importance" of their accomplishments are only noteworthy due to the fact they play for an institution and a system built up over many years, the popularity of such occurred long before they were born. Thus, the University itself has rightful claim to a portion of the proceeds of any deal struck while the athlete is enrolled. This is something I'm sure the NCAA would not object to.
For the mega-star, there are also tangible benefits that extend beyond the financial. Once they leave the relative peace and harmony of their campus, they will be (at a very young age) thrust into a world filled with sharkish agents, financial managers, investment "gurus" and plopped alone into a large city with tons of cash and little experience on how to deal with it all. College is where we prepare ourselves for the world ahead and for the superstar athlete, better they are exposed to the dark underbelly of sports and entertainment while the stakes are relatively low. Such experience might lead to less instances of former millionaires finding themselves broke at the grizzled age of 25.
Likewise, if this athlete is able to capitalize on their name while in college, and earn a couple hundred thousand dollars, the need and desire to go pro early may not be as urgent. This may result in players opting to stay in school for an extra year or two, or even (gasp) stick it out until graduation. Many a college athlete cites their decision to leave school after one or two years on the needs of their families. Back in the 70's and 80's this was even given its proper title, the "hardship" rule.
Delaying entry into the big leagues may even ultimately prolong their professional careers. In 2010 Nick Sugai produced an excellent Senior Thesis while at Amherst College on the impact of early entry into the NBA not only on a young prospects draft status, but their playing longevity and physical wear and tear. He found that players that entered the NBA at age 19 had a faster decline of skill and production in their 30's than did players who stayed in college the maximum four years. The difference in playing 30 games a year versus an 82 game (plus playoff) schedule has a lasting impact on the ankles and knees in still-developing bodies.
Professional leagues, in particular the NBA, might find such a policy to their liking as well. The general consensus among NBA coaches and executives is that while they don't necessarily like the current system, in which the top level stars enter the draft after one year of college, that is the system and they must compete in it. With players staying longer in college, not only will they enter the NBA with a better skill sets and understanding of the fundamentals of the game, scouting and drafting will be far less of a guessing game. Many a first round draft choice has failed to live up to their potential in the "one and done era," which has cost NBA teams not only millions of dollars but set many franchises back years in terms of fielding a competitive team, due to wasted draft choices.
Aside from the BMOC, endorsement opportunities can assist in the financial well being for the players all through the depth chart. The third string linebacker has the same rigorous schedule and difficulties as do the starters and while advertisers will not be beating down their doors, allowing endorsements provides for collective opportunities as well. As previously discussed, as these endorsement deals are worked out, conditions can be applied so that portions of these proceeds go to a fund which their fellow teammates, whose sweat and efforts pave the way for their stardom, may partake in as well.
To even go down the road of student-athlete endorsements opens a Pandora's Box of problems and concerns to be addressed, but it also opens up untold opportunities for the young men and women who play college sports. As we debate the merits of players unions and "pay for play" options, its at least another option to look at.
Most are really not students anyway, just take away the college association and make them paid minor league players.
If the athletes want to be treated as employees, fine: strip them of their athletic scholarships and hire them as professional football/basketball players working for the university. That would end a lot of hypocrisy.
I don't think it makes sense to allow college athletes to earn money from commercial endorsements while prohibiting them from getting paid by the school. You'll just end up with athletes getting paid exorbitant endorsement fees from alumni and booster, right?
If the NCAA really wants to clean up the sport and maintain the integrity of amateur athletics, I've got a better idea: maintain true amateur status for college athletic programs, not just college athletes. Just as the NCAA doesn't allow college athletes to earn money playing sports, just make it illegal for colleges to earn money running sports programs. Turn all the sports teams into "clubs" that have no formal affiliation with the schools, and see what happens. I give it 48 hours before the NCAA disappears in its current form, and minor league football and basketball leagues are created overnight.
Let them ........
(1) Get into college on their own merit.
(2) There is enough grant and loan money for anyone to go where they want. They can walk on and earn their scholarship.
(3) If a lot of these young athletes thought they had to get into college like non-athletes, they may try a little harder in class.
Over half the “student”-athletes in college now couldn’t get into their schools now without bending the rules for them.
If they want to play in college, make them earn it on the academic side too. Do that first and then earn a scholarship once accepted.
But he can well afford tattoos, iPod, cell phone, etc.
Any college athlete that claims he goes to bed hungry is as blatant a liar as that guy who claimed , "If you like your plan, you can keep your plan."
Nonsense. That is true of high profile sports at high profile schools but that overwhelming majority of student athletes: qualify for that school, graduate, remain largely anonymous. The proposed changes that the players are asking for, however, will mean an end to this. Schools will only be able to afford a couple of sports and will simply drop the rest.
It’s not nonsense. Most of the “student—athletes” playing football or basketball in big-time conferences wouldn’t be enrolled in major colleges or universities without a lot of special treatment and exceptions to get them enrolled.
They then get plugged into easy majors — sociology, urban studies, etc. — and easy classes just to keep them eligible. The schools don’t want to look bad so they do help the “student-athlete” get a piece of paper they call a degree.
And if schools cannot afford all these programs, maybe they should start dropping some.
The stars can’t wait to suffer the financial benefits of their sport. Unless I were a serious student, I would think the same.
I dont believe for one second they should get “pay for play” but this is America...how can you stop someone from making money off their own name?
Reading comprehension is not your strong suit.
Reading comprehension is not your strong suit.
Intelligence clearly isn’t your strong suit.