Almost two weeks ago, Yahoo Sports posted an article about an idea. The idea is to overhaul the amateur status of college athletics. Finally, it would be a way for players to cash in on their performance but keep the NCAA’s amateurism philosophy.
The plan was a joint effort between former UCLA and current Arizona Cardinals quarterback Josh Rosen, Tye Gosner of Weinberg Gonser LLP, a Southern California business law firm, and Bryan Bitzer, a USC law student. The working title for the plan is “The Modernization of College Athletics as an Incentive for Graduation."
The plan is simple. College athletes can profit off of various forms of opportunities during their college career. Money can be earned from jerseys, trading cards, endorsements and more. This would even allow the popular “NCAA Football” video game to finally return since the players would make money off of their likeness. There is a catch though. To get the money, the player has to graduate. If the player doesn’t graduate, there is no money that they get. This helps keep the amateur status of the athletes but allows them to get the money based on their performances.
This is a fantastic idea because it allows the players to benefit off of the NCAA’s revenue, which was $1.1 billion for the 2017 fiscal year. At the same time, it still encourages the student-athlete to emphasize the “student” element more because not every NCAA athlete is a Baker Mayfield where they are going to be the top overall draft pick in the NFL with millions of dollars waiting. An athlete can be at Alabama or Wisconsin-Whitewater and they can pocket some money off of their athletic performance and not get in trouble for it.
According to the plan, there would be an independent, nonprofit organization that would work as the middleman between the potential endorsers and the NCAA and the athletes. The document referred to it as Clearinghouse.
The organization has boundaries and limits on what can and can’t be endorsed by players such as energy drinks, lingerie and alcohol-related products, but products like tires and paper plates can have athletes promote it. The organization also can shield the athletes from boosters and endorsers that would break the NCAA’s rules. The organization is made up of five board of directors and four committees. The committees oversee the contracts, investments, ethics and community outreach for Clearinghouse, the NCAA and athletes.
When a player arrives at college they can sign up to participate in the program. Clearinghouse would then be the licensing representative and negotiate deals on behalf of the player.
Depending on the type of deal, the money will go into different revenue splits. Clearinghouse and the NCAA take a cut, as well as money going into a player pool and to a general scholarship fund. The player pool is divided among the program participants in the given sport. The proposal uses 13,000 Division I Football Bowl Subdivision participants with the $25,000 pool split evenly, which would add nearly $2,000 for the athlete. The scholarship goes to non-student athletes and helps fund community outreach programs at the discretion of an outreach community in the Clearinghouse organization.
But once again, to get the money, the player has to graduate. If the player fails to graduate within eight years or is disqualified based on various factors including being deemed permanently ineligible by the NCAA or illegal possession of drugs or weapons, the player forfeits the right to money and the amount they would have earned is redistributed in the general scholarship fund.
There is one thing that does come from this – it isn’t the fairest plan. Football players at Alabama are obviously getting more opportunities than someone at a school like Northwest Missouri State, but that is just how it works. Aaron Rodgers is obviously going to get more deals than Tanner Lee in the NFL because Rodgers is one of the NFL’s best players and Lee is the backup to Blake Bortles. Men’s basketball and football are going to get the most money, but they also bring in the most money. Hopefully something like this can allow revenue for women’s sports to grow, but other than Nebraska volleyball, UConn women’s basketball and other powerhouses in women’s sports, female athletes will probably not have the same opportunities as their male counterparts to receive money and many of them will only get checks of a couple hundred dollars upon graduation compared to the thousands a male athlete could get.
This is not a perfect solution, but this is the best attempt to find a solution that can allow all athletes to benefit off of the money they deserve without ruining what makes college athletics great.
More information on the plan can be found at www.fairplay4ncaa.com, including graphics and videos to explain the plan.
Luke Peterson is the sports editor of the Leavenworth Times. Contact him at email@example.com