The NCAA’s latest NIL ‘solution’ is nothing but a shell game


College sports has long been seen as a form of amateurism, with student-athletes playing for the love of the game rather than for financial gain. However, recent events have once again exposed the naked capitalistic nature of college sports, particularly football.

The College Football Playoff Committee’s decision to leave out Florida State from the playoffs due to their starting quarterback’s season-ending injury in late November is a clear indication that their goal is to put the best product possible on television. This decision prioritizes profit over fairness and highlights the commercialization of college sports.

But this decision is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the professionalization of college sports. Conference realignment, which has resulted in a Big Ten that stretches from coast to coast, has further eroded the facade of amateurism. It is clear that everyone involved in college sports is making money, except for the players themselves, who do the lion’s share of work in generating revenue.

The NCAA is currently facing a major lawsuit that could result in billions of dollars in retroactive NIL (Name, Image, and Likeness) money and revenue sharing from television deals. This lawsuit highlights the fact that college athletes are not being adequately compensated for the revenue they generate. The NCAA President, Charlie Baker, has proposed a new subdivision within the NCAA that would allow universities to enter into NIL deals with their own players and establish a trust fund for scholarship athletes. While this is a step in the right direction, it is still only incremental progress.

The fact remains that college athletes are not being fairly compensated for their contributions to the multi-billion dollar college sports industry. They are the ones who put in the blood, sweat, and strength on the field, yet they do not receive a fair share of the wealth generated from their efforts.

As college football expert Spencer Hall pointed out, the history of college football is a reflection of the history of America. We often do the dumbest, easiest thing and only make incremental progress when the mileage runs out on the wrong thing. This is evident in the evolution of college football, where the business of major college football was taken out of the NCAA’s jurisdiction in 1984 to maximize profits for the schools. However, the players were still expected to operate under the rules of amateurism.

It took another 20 years for college athletes to receive scholarships that accurately accounted for the full cost of attendance, and it was only in 2021 that the Supreme Court ruled that NIL was permissible on a state-by-state basis. These small steps towards justice are commendable, but they are far from sufficient.

NCAA President Charlie Baker’s proposal is not a revolutionary act. It is merely an attempt by the power brokers in college sports to present something that looks slightly better than what they were doing before. The NCAA still does not support revenue sharing, “pay for play” is still not allowed, and they are still trying to avoid the athletes being declared employees.

In conclusion, college sports has once again revealed its naked capitalistic body. The recent decisions by the College Football Playoff Committee and the ongoing lawsuit against the NCAA highlight the need for fair compensation for college athletes. While there have been some incremental steps towards progress, much more needs to be done to ensure that the players who generate the revenue are adequately rewarded for their efforts. It is time for college sports to shed its exploitative nature and truly prioritize the well-being and compensation of its student-athletes.

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