It is time to stop pretending National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) division I football and basketball players should be amateur athletes and come up with a feasible way to compensate them. It is often argued that an athlete’s scholarship should be considered their payment. However, for the football and basketball players of these large universities, it has come time to acknowledge the fact that the job they do is worth more than just a scholarship.
Over the last decade we have seen college football and basketball become massive money generators for the NCAA, television networks and the universities themselves. Last year the NCAA’s reported revenue was $996 million and Business Insider reported that CBS and Turner received $1.24 billion in TV ads during the NCAA tournament alone, double the amount made in 2009.
Over this last summer we saw programs sign extremely lucrative contracts, such as Louisville football’s 10 year $160 million dollar deal with Adidas. This is not to say universities need to give athletes million dollar contracts, but major reform is necessary for regulations suppressing these athletes. The NCAA claims its regulations are to “govern competition in a fair, safe, equitable and sportsmanlike manner” yet does nothing but restrict athletes.
To say athletes should not have the opportunity to receive some of this money is ridiculous. The NCAA has plenty of reasonable options to help better the situation, yet they insist on acting as if it makes sense to treat them as amateur athletes. It could be as simple as giving the universities an option to give the athletes a stipend decided on by the university.
They could also release their clutch on the identity of athletes and allow them to use their own likeness to make money. If the NCAA does not move toward adopting one of these or other simple options, we will see college football and basketball slowly diminish in talent as players will turn to other options.
Even now the NBA has discussed changing back the rule allowing players to enter the draft directly from high school. The NCAA has to change if it wants to keep talented athletes and its fans from finding a different option.