I love college sports, but I think many agree that the NCAA is a terrible organization. It makes around $1 billion in a non-pandemic year and yet forbids the people responsible for making that money — the athletes — from making any money themselves.
Finally, at long last, college athletes will be able to sign endorsement deals to profit off their name, image and likeness (NIL) after the NCAA changed its rules last month amidst a defeat in the U.S. Supreme Court in NCAA v. Alston.
Let’s think about that for a second. The Supreme Court ruled unanimously, 9-0, that the NCAA’s limits on compensation were in violation of antitrust laws, opening up the door for more similar lawsuits to be filed against the NCAA in the future if its rules didn’t change. This is the same Supreme Court that is divided on seemingly every issue. The same Supreme Court that has lost much of its credibility in recent years because of its political divisiveness.
Basically, when this Supreme Court rules unanimously against you, you know you’re in the wrong.
This ruling, along with the imminent passing of NIL laws in several states, gave the NCAA the kick it needed to finally wake up and change its dumb, archaic rules.
It’s one thing to oppose paying athletes directly because that becomes a slippery slope. How can you possibly decide how much a Clemson football player should get paid compared to a Furman lacrosse player? There’s no way to manage that fairly. But, when you are actively limiting student-athletes from making money on their own time from their own name, image and likeness, you are overstepping your bounds. Not only that, but previously, if a student-athlete even attempted to make a few bucks on the side, they would be punished for it along with their team. That isn’t right.
As Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote in his decision, “The NCAA's business model would be flatly illegal in almost any other industry in America.”
It’s true. Nowhere else can bosses not pay their employees and then also forbid them from making money by other means. It’s been an unfair system forever, but student-athletes have finally started standing up for themselves in recent years, prompting these long-overdue changes.
Now, I know some people like to point to the scholarships these student-athletes get and say, “Well isn’t that enough?”
No, it really isn’t. College athletes don’t even get to enjoy the full benefits of their free education because they’re working 40-hour-a-week jobs on top of going to school. Anybody who has gone to college knows that being a student is a full-time job, especially being a good student like these athletes have to be to stay eligible. Then you throw hours and hours of practice, travel and games on top of that? I’m sorry, but these student-athletes deserve more than just their scholarships, and now finally, they’re going to get more.
I’ve been happy to see college athletes across the country take advantage of these new rules in just the first couple of weeks. Of course, it’s a free-market system, so some athletes will benefit more than others, and that’s ok. Certain big-name athletes at big-name schools (UConn’s Paige Bueckers is the first that comes to mind) will be able to earn life-changing money through endorsement deals. But truly, there is something out there for everyone. Even if you’re not a big-name player or you play a less popular sport, you can still make some money by hosting a youth camp in your hometown or promoting a local business on your social media.
The bottom line is that now, every athlete has control over his or her own name, image and likeness and can do whatever he or she wants with it. They are no longer controlled by the overbearing grip of the NCAA, and in my humble opinion, that’s the way it should be.