The NCAA announced Wednesday they will move forward with creating rules to allow athletes to profit from their name, image, and likeness while enrolled in college. This decision is in stark contrast to everything the NCAA has said on the subject in recent years.
Everybody has heard the saying about the unstoppable force and the immovable object. We got an example of that on Wednesday that will not only affect Alabama football, but college athletics as a whole.
The NCAA announced that they would form a special committee that will work to create rules allowing student-athletes to profit from their name, image, and likeness. This allows athletes in each of the three NCAA divisions to sign endorsement deals with advertisers, businesses, and game makers (NCAA Football anyone?).
To be clear, this is not a pay-for-play model that would allow universities to pay players directly. Universities will still be barred from providing monetary compensation outside of scholarships.
Reaction around college athletics has been swift. Dabo Swinney, who has been outspoken about his opposition to the pay-for-play model, had this to say.
I think it’s a good step. It sounds like they’re serious about trying to get the right people in the room to figure out the parameters or best case to move forward. I’ve always been for the value of an education and collegiate experience – nothing has changed. But I’ve always said I am 100 percent for ways to modernize the collegiate model, modernize the scholarship.
This shift is not without critics. Some people, such as college basketball analyst Jay Bilas, say the new rule doesn’t go far enough and amounts to little more than lip service.
Others believe that this is a threat to amateurism in college sports. United States Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina said he is drafting legislation that would tax the scholarship of anybody that takes advantage of these rules.
Clearly this is a polarizing topic. Most people, including myself, believe it is a good first step toward finally allowing student-athletes access to the cash cow they are helping to fund. This is a long time coming in my opinion. In this era of collegiate athletics it was simply a matter of time before athletes got a piece of the pie.
And why shouldn’t they? They put their bodies on the line every time they take the field, court, or rink in the name of entertainment, while the NCAA and universities profit millions of dollars from their efforts. Not to mention the profits merchandisers make from the sale of jerseys, pictures, signatures, etc.
Athletes have been told from the dawn of the NCAA to be content with receiving an education in exchange for getting to play their sport of choice. That was probably a good deal 100 years ago, but not today.
Today, the value of a scholarship pales in comparison to the revenue generated by college athletics. Scholarship Stats.com estimates that the average annual value of a scholarship for a FBS football player in 2016 was $38,246. That sounds like a lot until you look at the average cost of attendance for these universities and factor in cost of living expenses.
Let’s take a deeper look at the Alabama football program for example.
According to 247Sports quoting the Wall Street Journal, Alabama football generated $140 million in revenue in the 2018 fiscal year. The Wall Street Journal values the Alabama football program at a staggering $1.01 BILLION (That’s BILLION with a ‘B’).
Statistics for Alabama football scholarships were not readily available so I’ll use the average annual scholarship value for DI football players, which is, in all likelihood, an overestimation.
Alabama football used about 84 scholarships in 2018. This means the university gave out approximately $3.2 million in scholarships. In other words, players received about 2.3% of the revenue they helped to generate, not to mention merchandise revenue. The current NFL CBA gives players a 48.5% share of all league revenue.
This is the right decision, but don’t be fooled. The NCAA isn’t turning over some progressive new leaf. Their hand was forced by legislation in California. With other states, such as Florida, quickly following suit. This is the same NCAA as always. They are a reactionary body rather than a proactive one.
Still, it is a small victory for student-athletes. They finally get permission to profit from their own identity. What is sad is that they needed permission in the first place.
Alabama football is on a BYE week this week, but we haven’t forgotten the huge game coming up in two weeks. I prefer to take inspiration from Saban and Alabama football players. Stay silent. Let the other team talk. Maybe those players on the other side doing the talking should listen to Nick Saban and join the debate team.