Will College Athletes Make Money? Here is where the debate is at.


NYT > Sports

While many college sports executives have been pushing for action by July 1, it seems increasingly unlikely that Washington officials will reach an agreement in the next few weeks.

Yes, and the association and its president, Mark Emmert, have refused to rule out this possibility.

The NCAA successfully fought a state challenge to its authority in the early 1990s. However, this case involved a single state law, and experts have warned that fighting the various laws would now mean a battle on multiple fronts with potentially unequal results.

Some stars, especially in soccer and basketball, could make millions. But many more college athletes, including many in the same sports, could potentially make thousands or tens of thousands of dollars in revenue. Some won’t make money. The laws don’t guarantee business; they only make it possible.

Jim Cavale, the executive director of INFLCR, an Alabama company that hired many schools to help students understand the rules and options, said he generally thinks of players in three categories. One bucket holds the college sports megastars making the biggest deals with the biggest companies. The largest group includes talented athletes who are particularly tech-savvy and can capitalize primarily on their online presence. The third segment includes players who are more likely to get into a gift card deal, for example with a local pizzeria.

However, how much they will all make could change over time.

“This whole thing is developed from the data of what happens,” said Cavale.

Choose your explanations. A crucial point is that, for financial, legal and philosophical reasons, it took a long time for many university sports directors to familiarize themselves with the idea that students can earn more than they cost to attend school.

And while California passed a law in 2019 that allows players to capitalize on their fame (it hasn’t come into effect yet) and pushed the NCAA to change, the NCAA is hardly designed for quick action. The coronavirus pandemic, which plunged the finances of the NCAA and college sports departments nationwide, didn’t help the schedule.

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