NCAA: League must go further on compensation for athletes

While the NCAA took a good first step admitting that college athletes deserve “to benefit” for the millions they bring to their schools and the league, it left open options for restricting that compensation as much as possible.

The NCAA Board of Governor’s approved a policy Tuesday that would allow students to benefit from the “use of their name, image and likeness.”

The NCAA doesn’t highlight the word “compensation” and the Board of Governors called on each division to come up with rules that would “not turn student athletes into employees of institutions.” The board also said rules of amateur athletics must remain in place, and that the change “must be consistent with the values of college sports and higher education.”

The NCAA also said the rules should be aimed at creating the “best possible experience for college athletes.”

There’s much to be deciphered here, but it sounds altogether too limiting.

Of course, the NCAA was forced into this mode of “benevolence” as states like California passed laws making it illegal for colleges to prohibit student athletes from being paid for endorsements, social media advertising and autograph signings.

On the federal level, Rep. Mark Walker, R-North Carolina, has introduced federal legislation making it illegal for colleges to restrict athletes’ ability to profit from their names and likenesses by marketing to third parties.

We believe athletes deserve to benefit from their name, likeness or other things of value and they should be able to receive compensation from third parties who find value in promoting the athletes and their brand. If the universities benefit directly and received funds, athletes should get a share.

College athletes have been subsidizing the money machine that has become college sports for too long. Consider the $6 billion reaped from the Division I college football playoff contract with ESPN. Men’s basketball reaps a $1 billion in a contract from CBS and Turner.

It’s time college athletes got their due. No amount of finessing with rules suggesting “principles of amateur athletics” will outweigh the rights of college athletes to be compensated for the income they generate for their schools.

— Free Press of Mankato


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