Skip to main content
You have permission to edit this article.
Edit
EDITORIAL: College athletes deserve compensation
alert

EDITORIAL: College athletes deserve compensation

  • 3
{{featured_button_text}}
PHOTO: Cavaliers

WHEN THE U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously last month that the NCAA cannot limit the education-related benefits colleges offer their top athletes, it was as though a tectonic plate had shifted in the college sports world.

Frankly, this should have happened a long time ago. Athletes who bring in billions of dollars for their colleges and universities should be able to personally benefit from their efforts on the field, in the pool or in the gym.

Less than two weeks after the high court’s decision, the NCAA’s board of directors approved rule changes that will allow nearly half a million student athletes to earn money from sponsorships, endorsements and personal appearances—referred to as “name, image and likeness” opportunities or NIL—without endangering their college eligibility or violating the NCAA’s amateurism requirements.

Some well-known student athletes have already signed outside NIL deals. More will follow.

Colleges are also now free to offer athletes computers, paid study-abroad programs, paid internships and other financial perks in addition to scholarships, although the high court did not rule on whether student athletes can be paid actual salaries.

Competing in college sports, especially at the Division 1 level, requires a high level of skill and commitment in addition to many hours of intense training. Those hours make it all but impossible for students to work part-time while attending classes full-time. But the archaic NCAA rules forbade them from using their athletic talents to help pay for their education, which has become more expensive over the years, and related expenses.

Colleges and universities reaped the benefits by profiting off their student athletes’ NILs without, for the most part, sharing the largesse with the very people who helped raise those massive amounts of money.

The NCAA fought the changes, arguing that its limits on compensation, including scholarships, were necessary to preserve college sports’ tradition of amateurism. But Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote that “traditions alone cannot justify the NCAA’s decision to build a massive money-raising enterprise on the backs of student athletes who are not fairly compensated” for their efforts.

It’s highly doubtful that fans of the Cavaliers or Hokies will stop going to games or watching them on television because the players are receiving education-related benefits. In fact, ticket sales and viewership may actually increase when people understand that their money is going for that purpose instead of increasing staff salaries or redecorating the faculty lounge.

Colleges and universities that relied on their student athletes’ uncompensated efforts will just have to make some minor adjustments to their budgets. But don’t feel too sorry for them.

In 2019, the amount of sports-generated revenue among all athletic departments affiliated with the NCAA totaled $18.9 billion. That coincided with a 28 percent increase in undergraduate tuition, fees, room and board at state universities, and a 19 percent increase at private nonprofit institutions of higher learning during the 2018-19 academic year. These double-digit cost escalations greatly exceeded the 1.8 percent inflation rate that year.

So now, after decades of literally raking in billions of dollars from their college sports franchises, these schools now have to share some of the profits with the student athletes who made it possible.

It’s about time.

Catch the latest in Opinion

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Most Popular

During the 2020 session, the General Assembly passed HB 1726/SB 1038,  that “dedicates $20 million of revenues from existing recordation taxes” to fund Hampton Roads’ new Regional Transit Fund. But that left Stafford with an unexpected $867,465 hole in its transportation budget, forcing it to delay or cancel some upcoming projects - including safety improvements required under Helen's Law.

Following the 2017 “blue wave” elections that saw Democrats win majorities in both chambers of the General Assembly, and the fact that the GOP has not won a statewide race since 2009, many pundits declared that Virginia was now a blue state and that Republicans were destined to remain a minority party. But as Mark Twain might have said, “rumors of [Republicans’] demise have been greatly exaggerated.”

While a car driver could get a lawyer or file a claim themselves in small claims court for property damage caused by an aggressive cyclist, many cyclists are going to be very close to judgment-proof. And practically speaking, it’s just not going to be worth the time to pursue a claim even if there is some damage to the vehicle.

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.

Topics

Breaking News

News Alert