*In light of the recent situation regarding the NCAA investigation methods, it makes sense to come up with a way to avoid this predicament again.
And the solution is simple: allowing players to be compensated. Here is a column I initially wrote after Ohio State was sanctioned for improper benefits going to players about a year ago.
I have argued in the past that big time collegiate athletes (primarily football and men’s basketball players) should be paid for their services. Yet even as I held this position I could not formulate a sustainable method of paying them.
And while the logistics of paying college athletes may have been tricky, the principle was solid and worth pursuing. The solution has now presented itself.
Some of the objections to paying college athletes are 1. The players are already being compensated in the form of their athletic scholarship. 2. Paying college football players would mean paying college bowlers. 3. All college athletes receive the same athletic scholarship so wouldn’t they all receive the same pay? 4. Using the revenue from football and basketball to pay the players would decrease the funds for other intercollegiate sports. My solution works around all of these issues.
Ironically enough, the most recent Ohio State improper benefits scandal revealed this resolution to me even as commentators across the country were condemning the players that were involved. Let players retain the use of their identity for profit making enterprises.
College athletics are using the players as a form of unpaid labor. For the majority of the athletes on any campus this is a great deal. But for some athletes this situation is terribly unfair. College football and basketball players are generating the billions of dollars that allow for the other sports to operate. By allowing the most prestigious collegiate athletes to use their names and likenesses they are able to benefit from their popularity while at the same time taking nothing away from their school’s or the NCAA’s profit margin.
At Ohio State the players would have maintained total eligibility for trading autographed memorabilia for tattoos. Technically it was their gear, and their autographs. The NCAA could allow for these transactions to take place. The beauty of such a setup is that all players, male or female, would be able to make money or trade goods and services off of their name. In other words the opportunity is open to basketball players going to the NBA as well as golfers destined to be local club pros.
If the NCAA adopted these guidelines for allowing players to make extra money, the universities would still profit from the ticket sales, parking, and any officially licensed merchandise (jerseys and video games). That is they would still be getting a return on their investment of the athletic scholarship. Furthermore they would be able to keep their revenue and therefore keep offering the other varsity sports that depend on that revenue.