In the summer of 2021, student-athletes gained the right to make money from their name, images and likeness (NIL).
Before this ruling, organizations like ESPN could use a player’s picture or name on various advertisements, and that student would see nothing in return.
However, now any one of the almost half-a-million NCAA student-athletes can receive compensation for their NIL.
What resulted from this was a frenzy of student-athletes, small businesses, and national brands alike trying to cash in on what looked to be a lucrative opportunity.
Some of the nation’s top athletes signed with big name brands like Barstool Sports, earning a five- or six-figure deal in the process. However, a majority of athletes were left to sign with local businesses, like car dealerships or lunch spots, for their NIL promotions.
While the initial NIL deal was a step in the right direction, the National College Players Association (NCPA) feels like there is still work to be done. The NCPA filed a civil rights complaint with the US Department of Education earlier this week against the NCAA.
The complaint claims that all 350 NCAA Division I schools are violating Black student-athletes’ civil rights by colluding to cap athlete compensation.
There are three D1 colleges in Kansas:
- Kansas Jayhawks
- Kansas State Wildcats
- Wichita State Shockers
As legal Kansas online sports betting inches closer to reality, it’s fair to wonder how that would impact college athletics and athletes.
Does the NCAA cap athlete compensation?
It’s important to note that the NCAA does cap athlete compensation. As well as limit what the schools can provide to athletes. The NCPA is looking to eliminate that cap on athlete compensation because of its “unjust compensation limits.”
Ramogi Huma, the executive director of the NCPA, said:
“College athletes throughout predominantly white sports receive fair market compensation [in the form of athletic scholarships], but athletes in the only predominantly Black sports [FBS football and men’s and women’s basketball] do not.
All college athletes should have the opportunity to receive fair market pay. This can happen without cutting any sports. Colleges would just have to spend a bit less on coaches’ salaries and luxury facilities.”
The NCPA calculated how much these athletes are being denied because of the unjust caps and the estimations are as follows:
- Women’s Basketball – $24,000
- Men’s Basketball – $164,000
- FBS Football – $185,000
While you may think most of the burden here falls on the shoulders of the NCAA, you’d be mistaken.
The NCAA governance structure is often misunderstood. The NCAA is simply responsible for enforcing the rules set by the high-ranking university and conference administrators.
So that’s why the NCPA filed its complaint with the US Department of Education and not directly with the NCAA.
It’s time to pay the players
While it may seem like there’s a lot to unpack here, the solution is pretty clear.
Remove the cap, and allow these athletes to make as much money as they can. To better orchestrate my point, let’s look at just Division I football for a second.
If you’re ever wondering how much money a top-tier school’s football program brings in, then here’s a helping hand. Here are the top-5 earning NCAA football programs and an average of what they bring in yearly, over the last three years.
Keep in mind that this is including the 2020 COVID-19 season that saw a drastic drop in ticket sales.
- University of Texas – $147 Million
- Texas A&M – $147 Million
- University of Michigan – $139 Million
- Alabama – $134 Million
- Ohio State University – $132 Million
Before the NIL deals, these programs would profit greatly off of their players. And the players see no compensation in return. Today, the players can at least get a seat at the table, but they are only getting a crumb of the cake.
But they’ll see that money when they get drafted into the NFL, won’t they?
Yes, they will. But did you know that fewer than 2% of all NCAA Division I football players go on to play in the NFL? So a majority of players who won’t ever sniff the NFL are making money for an organization that already has tons of money.
And, unfortunately, the players are seeing virtually nothing in return.
If these players are going to sacrifice their college experience and generate money for their schools, then the least they can do is receive equal and fair compensation.
And should legal sports betting pass in Kansas, it will put a magnifying glass on the topic as a new revenue stream comes in on the backs of these players.
Photo by David J. Phillip / Associated Press