The Movement Begins: Athletes to be paid at the collegiate level



James Wiseman goes through his free-throw form. Wiseman has been ruled ineligible due to legal issues this season, however, if this bill is passed he would be clear to play.

Jackson Stanley, Sports editor

Let’s be real, love it or hate it, college athletics generate an insane amount of money. Division I men’s basketball alone produced $1 billion in revenue over the 2016-2017 season, and it’s done nothing but increase since then according to Service Quality Analytics Data (SQAD). During the March Madness final four games, companies forked over between $1.3 million and $1.7 million for each 30-second advertisement to the National College Athletic Association (NCAA) and until now the athletes have not (legally) seen a penny of it.

California governor Gavin Newsome was the first to enact the “Fair Pay to Play Act” which will allow student athletes to profit off of their name, image and likeness. This would also grant student athletes the ability to hire an agent to manage their endorsements and sponsorships. The NCAA would be unable to regulate, restrict or profit off of the agreements made between companies and student athletes changing the rules of the organization.

“Colleges reap billions from student athletes but block them from earning a single dollar. That’s a bankrupt model,” Newsome said.

After California enacted the bill on Sept. 30, the bill became a trending topic to the legislatures in various other states. Similar bills have since then been proposed or passed by Kentucky, Florida, Illinois, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, Pennsylvania and South Carolina. None of these bills will be put into action until Jan. 1, 2023, due to the drastic nature of the changes. The support behind the movement is without a doubt a sign of the times.

The California bill will apply to all colleges and universities in the state, which has the potential to disrupt conferences that have schools in different states. For example, the Atlantic 10 conference has five schools from New York or Pennsylvania. If the bills in those states are passed, those schools will automatically become more competitive to successfully recruit players from high school because they can profit from going to those schools.

Along with schools in states without the bill becoming less competetive, many people disagree with this bill because they believe that these student athletes have already been given enough. Fifty-nine percent of Division I athletes go to their given college on scholarship, and some make an argument that is a form of income in itself. North Carolina senator Richard Burr plans to begin taxing scholarships if the state enacts this bill.

“If college athletes are going to make money off their likenesses while in school, their scholarships should be treated like income. I’ll be introducing legislation that subjects scholarships given to athletes who choose to ‘cash in’ to income taxes,” Burr said.

But regardless of the backlash, it is clear where the public support lies. So whether you’re a devoted fan, casual observer or collegiate athlete, all will have to prepare for a new age of collegiate athletics.