When it comes to compensating student-athletes, the institution of college sports is broken.
Although a new law in California might not fix the problem, it could lead to more legislation that will.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the law that allows college athletes to have endorsement deals and profit from their likeness.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) prohibits athletes from signing such deals, and it’s plausible the NCAA would ban from competition the athletes benefiting from the new law.
The outcome of the legislation remains to be seen, but it has already focused attention on the fact that college athletes should receive better compensation for their efforts.
Yes, many enjoy free tuition, room and board, as well as access to lavish facilities for big-time football and basketball programs. Some also enjoy celebrity status on and off campus.
However, many top schools make hundreds of millions of dollars from the games these athletes play, and the NCAA, a non-profit organization, makes billions. Some coaches get paid millions every year, and their salaries continue to climb.
Athletes, meanwhile, can be subject to their scholarships being reduced or revoked on a yearly basis, meaning the blood, sweat and tears they’ve invested in their sport could end up being just the down payment on the bill to continue their education without a scholarship.
Allowing athletes to sign endorsement deals does pose problems: schools would find supporters who can afford to fork over millions of dollars to an athlete willing to appear in commercials. The best teams would be those with the deepest financial backing, which is the case in many pro sports.
Critics of the new law said college athletes don’t deserve more. After all, they said, many won’t be saddled with student loans after college, unlike thousands of other people around the country.
As politicians push for an increased minimum wage, they should also figure out a better way to compensate college athletes for the entertainment—and revenue—they produce.
Sports gambling has become more popular and is legal in Illinois and Indiana. However, it’s unfair that a gambler in a casino can make money off a college game, but the young men and women performing on the athletic stage can’t get a better slice of the financial pie.
The NCAA will have to address these issues soon, and California just sped up the process.