by Zack Bussin
Federal courts have decided it was unfair not to pay college athletes because the NCAA and it’s member schools are making millions of dollars while athletes are not seeing a dime. For example, last year, Texas A&M University made $120 million, of that, half was made by jersey sales of Johnny Manziel, the school’s quarterback. Manziel received zero dollars from any of his jersey sales. Is it fair for a player to make that much money for his team, but not see a dime of it, and have the courts created a solution to this situation?
The ruling on the O’Bannon vs. NCAA case was in favor of the players. This decision allows the college basketball and football athletes in major division 1 programs to be compensated for their work. Judge Claudia Wilken of the United States District Court in Oakland rebuked the current rules of the NCAA and declared it unfair for the schools to make money off of their players. The ruling allows universities to offer football and basketball players in Division 1 schools to have trust funds set up in their name. This money would come from the profits that the university makes off of players’ jersey sales and tickets. These funds can be claimed after players graduate or go into the professional leagues. Under the ruling, universities are also responsible for: tuition scholarships, books, food and transportation. This is a big change because many college athletes said that they have gone nights without eating. Shabazz Napier, a college basketball star for the University of Connecticut told SBnation, “We do have hungry nights that we don’t have enough money to get food in. Sometimes money is needed. I don’t think you should stretch it out to hundreds of thousands of dollars for playing, because a lot of time guys don’t know how to handle themselves with money. I feel like a student athlete. Sometimes, there’s hungry nights where I am not able to eat, but I still gotta play up to my capabilities.”
The new ruling allows annual payments, from the total income of the university sports programs that reflect the full cost of going to school. By these new guidelines no college athlete should go hungry.
The NCAA is going to appeal this ruling because it affects their operation and they will have to change many of the rules they have already set into place. The NCAA’s argument, according to rules set by professional sports, is that if a player is being paid, they lose their official amateur status, which can cause many different problems. The first problem is that if they are no longer amateurs, are sports agents allowed to represent them in college? This could cause bidding wars among colleges for the top athletes, and this would only make the richer colleges even richer. The colleges who do not have the big conferences backing them will lose players because these students are going to take the money over the experience, and all the smaller colleges cannot offer the same financial support as the larger colleges.
The Dominican University Basketball announcer and sports radio broadcaster Alex Swan states, “Schools with high-end income will definitely have an advantage over other schools simply because they can afford it.” These are some of the new problems that the NCAA and the players union have to iron out before any of this can be settled.
This is the first real step toward college athletes being paid for their abilities both on the field and bringing in revenue. Meanwhile, other steps have been taken, such as the Northwestern football team deciding to unionize. That effort was not only about pay but also about players accessing health insurance. Experts say that little by little college athletes are going to file lawsuits against the NCAA until they get what they believe is fair.