The debate on whether college athletes should be able to make money off of endorsements and their likeness has been raging for years now. Many experts and former athletes have weighed in, and a significant development has recently occurred.
On Oct. 29, the NCAA voted unanimously to kickstart the process of changing its rule that bars players from making a profit off of their names and likenesses. Other states have begun following California’s lead, and several prominent politicians at the state level have voiced support for similar legislation in their own states. In addition, several prominent athletes and celebrities like Lebron James have frequently called out the NCAA and its restrictions on player salaries. James has been a strong advocate for change to the NCAA’s system, frequently lashing out at the NCAA and voicing public support for California’s legislation.
However, this recent string of events has reopened a debate that has been swirling around college athletics for decades. Should college athletes be paid and make money off of their athletic ability?
Defenders of the NCAA’s vote state that college athletes should have the same opportunities to make money as all other students. These people feel that if a music major can perform a concert and get paid, then an athlete should be able to use their skills to earn money as well. In addition, big-name athletics like football and basketball bring in a ton of revenue for schools in the form of ticket sales, merchandise and increased enrollment.
On the other hand, opponents of the vote have many issues with its potential implications. They feel that the most talented players will simply flock to the schools that offer the best packages and most money. Another point in defense of this argument is that college athletes are typically reimbursed in scholarships and other forms of educational help. The value of these scholarships usually adds up to several thousand dollars, meaning the student-athletes are already adequately compensated in some people’s eyes.
Despite the recent progress on the issue, some proponents of paid student-athletes are still upset with the NCAA. These people feel that the NCAA is not taking a firm stance on the issue and is instead just stalling for time by dragging out the process. Others feel that even if the vote does pass that it will not be enough and that more should be included. These other inclusions cover an actual salary and the ability to accept endorsements that are directly related to the athlete’s sport.
Whether or not the system is altered, and the extent of the alteration will have major implications on college athletics. It could be entirely possible that within a decade we have fully sponsored college athletes that earn an income that doesn’t come in the form of a scholarship.
The other side of this is, the NCAA’s proposed changes could meet heavy resistance and stall before it makes any progress. The NCAA will now gather internal feedback on the proposed rule change and will make a final vote during their annual meeting in April.