Will paying student athletes save or destroy college sports?
Picture being at the pinnacle of your collegiate basketball career. You have multiple athletic endorsements pending, practically in your pocket, just waiting for you to graduate. Then you get injured, after just two minutes in your first college game. Your draft stock plummets, your endorsements start slipping away and you’re forced to undergo surgery to repair your herniated disks. This was the story of current Denver Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr.
Although Porter Jr. was fortunate enough to land a Puma shoe deal and a spot with the Nuggets after his injury, many players in his shoes would have fallen off the grid. Look at former Texas A&M guard Derrick Roland, a highly regarded prospect prior to the 2010 National Basketball Association (NBA) draft. After he broke both his tibula and fibula in December 2009 during a Big 12 Conference game, his draft stock fell, and he went undrafted in the 2010 NBA Draft, despite his elite defensive potential. And get this: Roland didn’t make a single dime while playing for Texas A&M, in spite of his significant scoring contribution to the team.
The absence of pay wasn’t because Roland was unknown, however. It was because of the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) restriction, stating, “You are not eligible for participation in a sport if you have ever: taken pay, or the promise of pay, for competing in that sport,” according to the Summary of NCAA Eligibility Regulations − NCAA Division I. Simply put, collegiate athletes cannot reap the rewards of their work.
However, with the recent signing of the Fair Pay to Play Act in California, that’s all about to change. Taking effect in January 2023, the bill will allow collegiate athletes, exclusively football and basketball players in California, to finally accept endorsements without their scholarship being revoked. Although the bill will spark minor implications with the NCAA, specifically pertaining to athletic recruitment, it is an unprecedented step in the right direction.
The profit garnered from the ticket sales and team staff salaries will remain unaffected whether or whether not athletes can make money off their images. In regards to the aforementioned concern, many critics attest that the act gives California colleges an unfair recruitment tool; however, that’s simply another excuse to deny athletes their hard-earned money.
The only reason why NCAA colleges prohibit athlete endorsements and deals is because they benefit off the monopoly created in the market of brand sales. For instance, the only purchasable merchandise related to a college athlete, particularly basketball, is a player’s college jersey. As a result, the money made from jersey sales goes directly to the college, not at all benefitting the player whose name is plastered on the jersey.
The end result is this: the NCAA brings in over $1 billion in revenue annually because of the monopolistic characteristic of college brand sales, most of which utilize their athletes’ images. Athletes should be given an opportunity to earn a fair share of the profit reaped from their own image, which is what the new California act strives to achieve. If California could so easily pass the act, why can’t states with their own NCAA colleges legalize the bill too? It’s just a matter of money for colleges.
By Jacob Khuu, Manager
Imagine putting in endless hours toward one goal: to be the best. In the gym. At the court. On the field. All those hours dedicated to a scholarship, all to go to the college of your dreams. Just to have the chance to represent your school, your pride, your passion. Then you turn on the news and find out that a California bill was passed that allows college players to make money off their performance, just like a pro-athlete. Where does all that passion and pride go?
California Governor Gavin Newsom recently passed a Fair Pay to Play bill for college athletes that goes into effect in 2023, which allows college athletes to hire agents and be paid for endorsements. The act would, in effect, bypass NCAA regulations prohibiting college athletes from making a profit from their performance on the team. However, the NCAA has the power to invoke repercussions against California as a result of the bill, with a worst case scenario being the ban of California colleges in NCAA tournaments and games.
It is necessary to remember that the primary point of attending college is to learn. Colleges take great pride in being able to produce career-bound young adults, whether it be in athletics or academics.
Many of the top athletes in the NCAA are receiving full-tuition scholarships. The whole purpose of college is to function as the transitional stage into adulthood, and the financial support that athletes already receive should be enough.
That being said, the bill is not an economically smart choice in the long run for freshmen college athletes. Endorsements may be beneficial for the athletes given that they are dedicating time and work, but at the same time, their pay is based on their status as a freshman, not based on their performance. On top of that, since colleges in California are planning on paying athletes, more athletes will gravitate toward the California-based colleges, drawing athletes away from other states, giving California an unfair advantage over the recruitment process of college athletes. The bill precipitates a chain reaction, which increases the monetary gain for college athletes in California but decreases the monetary value and range of scholarships for other colleges.
The Golden State’s Fair Pay to Play bill is giving the state a monopoly on college athletes, whether it be to a D-1 school or to a local college in a rural town. Imagine how a star athlete in another state would feel if he were performing at the peak of his game, but unable to economically benefit from his hard work. And yet, his counterpart plays for money and fame. What’s more important: playing for your school or for money?
By Tristan Gonzalez, Photo editor-in-chief
Photo by Isaac Le