Popularity makes profit

I will spare the skepticism and give my view early and it is pretty simple actually.

Student-athletes should be allowed to profit off their name, image and likeness. They should not receive a check from an institution for participating in a game.

The NCAA rakes in around $900 million from its March Madness basketball tournament every year, according to a USA Today article published in March 2019.

According to USA Today, that amount comes from commercials and ticket sales as well as sponsorships.

College athletes do not touch a single penny of that astronomically large sum of money. 

If they want to hold a summer camp…fine. If they want to pocket prize money for playing in a summer league or tournament…fine. Be in a commercial for a sports company like Gatorade or Nike? That should be acceptable too.

In the eyes of the multibillion dollar industry that is the NCAA, if a student-athlete were so much as consider any of those things, they would ruin a part of their lives they have held close since they were children.

Sophomore sports marketing major Marc Picinic believes the NCAA needs to change its rules at a national level.

“I do think it really should be a nation-wide thing because it’s unfair for schools, in my opinion, to benefit off of these students who work hard day in and day out and get absolutely nothing for it,” he said.

Former Rider track and field hurdler Sara Gardner was a runway and editorial model and was paid for her work. She said it helped pay for her college expenses.

Additionally, Gardner told me, in an earlier interview, that Nike, Under Armour and Adidas offered her modeling deals. It was very surprising to me that those companies would even think about doing such a thing knowing if she had accepted, her National Letter of Intent contract would be broken.

She would no longer be allowed to run at that point. To me, that is the biggest problem.

The California bill will allow athletes to profit off their name, image and likeness beginning in 2023. This is the first bill of its kind. However, New York and Florida proposed bills of their own, neither of which have passed yet.

New York’s bill would give student-athletes 15% of the revenue their sport produces.

If Florida’s bill passes, it would see athletes being compensated by next year.

When I spoke with Rider Athletic Director Don Harnum, he said something which surprised me.

“Most Division I schools do not ticket for their events. We do not ticket for soccer, field hockey, tennis, baseball. Is it 15% of ticket sales for just the ticketed athletes? I don’t have that answer. What if ticket sales don’t cover your expenses? They’re getting 15% of revenue that really does not exist.”

I see where Harnum is coming from regarding this. Little ole Rider is probably not one of those 30 schools. He is referencing those large 25,000-plus student body population Power Five schools i.e. Alabama, LSU, Kentucky, Duke and Penn State to name a few.

Sometimes people overlook the fact that these bills cover all sports. Yes, the golf team will not deliver revenues anywhere near comparable to a university’s basketball or football programs, but they are still NCAA athletes too and are subjected to the same regulations.

If the school were to write checks to players, that is where I see the NCAA’s argument that the lines of amateurism and professionalism are blurred. In the NBA, the best players get the most money; the bottom-of-the-roster players get paid little money.

The same would happen in college.

And then Oct. 29 came along, and right before Halloween the NCAA decides to leave the world to figure out if they are giving us a trick or treat.

What do I mean, you ask? Well, the NCAA board of governors published a press release with an opening line of “In the Association’s continuing efforts to support college athletes, the NCAA’s top governing board voted unanimously to permit students participating in athletics the opportunity to benefit from the use of their name, image and likeness in a manner consistent with the collegiate model.”

Stop the presses! Did the NCAA find out I am writing this piece and decide allow student-athletes to benefit off their name, image and likeness? I assure you they did not but boy was this a shocker.

Let’s break this whole thing down.

According to the release, student-athletes still are not allowed to receive compensation for athletic participation. This also needs to be done in a “manner consistent with the collegiate model.”

But the current collegiate model is for student-athletes to not be paid? See how this begins to get confusing? The NCAA’s interpretation of “the collegiate model” is critical to how this will all play out.

The board also asked each of the NCAA’s divisions — DI, DII and DIII — to create rules around the issue starting now but no later than January 2021.

Immediately after word broke, my social media timelines were flooded with images of a futuristic “NCAA Football 20” video game, and rightfully so. Who wouldn’t be pumped about the possibility of EA Sports releasing a college sports video game for the first time since 2013.

The bottom line is that California, New York, Florida and many other states rocked NCAA President Mark Emmert and the organization to its core.

This editorial expresses the opinion of The Rider News Editorial Board. This week’s editorial was written by Sports Editor Dylan Manfre.

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