Former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon’s 2014 class-action lawsuit against the NCAA over its failure to pay college athletes for their name, image and likeness in video games violated antitrust laws.
Seven years later, in 2021, in the case NCAA v. Alston, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the organization had again violated antitrust laws by capping the value of athletic scholarships. Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote that the NCAA’s failure to pay athletes “would be downright illegal in almost any other industry in America.”
However, this decision did not address the issue of student-athlete compensation. Today, with NIL, which in many ways was created by the O’Bannon and Alston trials, the problem remains unresolved.
Last October, the NCAA introduced a second round of clarifications on how existing NCAA rules apply to its interim NIL policy, including the participation of Division I member schools in NIL activities. This has essentially led to the rise of NIL collectives which are growing almost every day.
Front Office Sports reported last week that LSU has four top 10 women’s sports athletes with NIL earning potential. According to On3, basketball players Angel Reese ($1.4 million) and Flau’jae Johnson ($812,000) are two Black women ranked among the top spots.
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EA Sports announced last week that it has entered into a licensing agreement with One Team Parties that provides a $5 million pool for 10,000 eligible FBS football players, regardless of position, who will pay each player $500 for their name, image and likeness on EA’s new 2024. college football video game.
These NIL deals, big or small, that both male and female college athletes can now obtain, appear on the surface to be a win-win for the players. But are they?
“I think (the NCAA) used NIL to its advantage by not addressing the most central issue, which was the employment issue,” said Ellen Staurowsky, a sports media professor at Ithaca College. She has long been a staunch advocate for college players getting their just compensation through the enormous dough their respective schools bring in from their play.
Staurowsky co-authored “College Athletes for Hire,” a landmark study on the financial shortfall of athletes on full scholarships, as well as a study that revealed how NCAA sports primarily “steal” from football and basketball players. black college basketball billions in generational wealth. She also gave expert testimony during the O’Bannon trial.
Over the years, the professor and former director of university sports has responded to our calls for her expert analysis on issues related to university sports. She recently spoke to MSR, which asked whether the NCAA was using NIL as a delay tactic to avoid paying college athletes.
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“I think the NCAA has been incredibly consistent over the years, doing everything they can, to not recognize the workforce that works for them and generates revenue (for big schools and universities) ” Staurowsky said. “I don’t think it’s accidental, given that the NCAA has been so effective in its messaging over the years. This is all just a cover-up to make it appear as if something significant is happening, while the athletes continue to be handed crumbs on the table. »
No matter how big some NIL deals are, they are tiny compared to the mega-deals that schools and the NCAA get through television rights. A report from “USA Today” last week showed that the Power Five conferences together generated more than $3.3 billion in revenue in the 2022 fiscal year.
The Big Ten had the highest total revenue at $845.6 million. Minnesota and every member school other than Nebraska, Maryland and Rutgers received about $58.8 million.
“When you add it all up,” Staurowsky concluded, “athletes are once again making pennies in comparison to what everyone else (coaches and other senior officials) makes.”
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