College Athletics Go Pro

Agents, endorsements, transfers to other colleges, colleges charging licensing fees to players, fewer star players in bowl games, and a plethora of yet unknown consequences are about to explode in the worlds of college football and basketball.

We could have a very long conversation and I could do a very long essay on the subject but I have just one observation to share. Players will make money because they have been offered the opportunity to play sports for a college. Without this opportunity they have no point of reference from which to sell their names, likenesses or to pitch products. Thus, should not the college charge the student athlete a fee for license to use the college name, uniform and place? If a star football player is offered $100,000.00 to endorse a product and does so as the star quarterback at Ohio State shouldn’t Ohio State receive part of that endorsement fee for without Ohio State the QB would be receiving nothing. In fact, if Ohio State had not offered the student a scholarship might he not have ended up at Miami of Ohio or some other mid-level college where the market for his name and likeness isn’t what it is in Columbus. This means the very offer of a scholarship from a well known program carries with it the possibility of thousands of dollars of additional income, perhaps even tens of thousands of dollars. Will boosters form corporations to market the athletic stars from their alma maters? Will the colleges want to be compensated for the use of their names? If a player from a college is using the college’s name will the college have a contract clause regarding behavior wherein the athlete might lose the college’s permission to use its name?

Do you think the colleges will pass up the opportunity to make more money? Many think not. Is it possible this entire undertaking will be plagued with theater-like melodrama and court actions? For example what happens when a second string player sues asking for equitable compensation for the hours put in on the court or practice field. Many think this new world is a good thing for only the star players and will ultimately result in the breakaway of large college programs from the NCAA and the creation of a professional college sports league wherein all the players, including the scout team members, must be paid salaries. This will reduce the available monies now used to support minor, non-revenue sports and colleges may drop those sports leaving only big-time sports like football and basketball. (As a point of reference Stanford recently threatened to end twelve minor sports.)

Many changes are coming as are an unending number of civil suits. The Olympics went professional, Rugby Union went professional and now college football and basketball are going professional.

2 thoughts

  1. You’ve posed several interesting questions, the answers to which will surely characterize the future of college athletics.

    Here are some questions that almost no one wants to know the answers to. Is the existence of inter-collegiate athletics critical to the ostensibly academic mission of colleges and universities? Are colleges responsible for promoting and maintaining minor sports through a subsidized system of minor sports programs? Could sports betting survive the dissolution of organized college sports?

    And now that we have conclusive evidence that college football contributes significantly to a large number of athletes experiencing chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) as well as other quality-of-life altering physical ailments, can colleges justify the continued harm?

    1. Excellent observations Bart. Yes there are lots of changes that need to be made to football in specific and sports in general. You speak of CTE in football players and it is, indeed, a problem but what about in International Football or as we call it soccer? Heading a soccer ball causes significant movement to the brain within the cranial cavity. In US football the use of protective gear has morphed the sport into one where the protective gear is used offensively. For example the face mask is welded steel covered with latex and with inserted into the ribs or back of another player can do significant damage. The protective gear also gives an exaggerated concept of protection to the player. The two most common injuries in football are concussions and knee injuries and are related in that a knee to the helmet or a helmet to the knee will result in both. As for changes being made remember we have become a country that revels in Mixed Martial Arts which is about as close to Gladiatorial bouts in Rome as you can get without swords and tridents.

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