Athletes could be compensated for name, image, likeness in future

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Student athletes could be getting paid in the near future, but not before the NCAA tries to save its amateurism model in the courtroom.

After a lawsuit against the five major revenue conferences over the use of the name, image and likeness of student athletes, the Big 12, the SEC, the Pac-12, the Big Ten and the ACC are considering compensating student-athletes.

If the NCAA’s appeal on the ruling is denied and the Power 5’s autonomy structure is approved at the NCAA convention this week, Power 5 officials would look to have the new rules in place by 2016.

“The NCAA is appealing the ruling on name, image and likeness,” said Chris Del Conte, TCU’s director of intercollegiate athletics. “So you have to prepare for every scenario that happens.”

In August, U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken barred the NCAA from enforcing rules or bylaws that prohibit compensating Division I programs from paying athletes for using their names, images and likenesses.

Under the current ruling, Power 5 universities could end up paying 85 football and 15 men’s basketball players no less than 5,000 each annually for using their name, image and likeness through marketing and TV deals. The money would be placed in a trust fund for the athletes and disbursed after their athletic eligibility is up.

“Due to Title IX, the federal law that requires parity for women’s sports, universities would have to match that $500,000 annual budget line for female athletes,” said Kim Johnson, TCU’s senior associate athletics director and senior woman administrator. Johnson is the Title IX coordinator for the athletics department.

“To balance that, [we’re] going to give 100 women the same money, even though they are not on TV,” Johnson said.

But Gretchen Bouton, senior associate athletic director for compliance and student services, said TCU could approach it a different way because Title IX “says things have to be equitable, not equal.”

“Let’s pretend there’s 200 women. We have to give 100 opportunities to those men’s sports at $5,000 each. So you give each of [the women] $2,500,” Bouton said. “This over here is because of the lawsuit, and this over here is because of Title IX.”

The O’Bannon plaintiffs must respond to the NCAA’s appeal by Jan. 21. The NCAA has requested for oral arguments to be held in April or May, but the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has not yet approved the request.

In the courtrooms

The debate about name, image and likeness sparked in 2009 when former UCLA basketball star Ed O’Bannon and other former college athletes sued the NCAA for not giving them a share of the money the institution made off them.

O’Bannon decided to sue when he saw himself in an NCAA-authorized video game, which he received no money from. Wilken sided with O’Bannon.

She ruled that $5,000 would be placed in a trust fund annually for football and men’s basketball players. Schools would not have to deposit the money if they did not try to sell anything using the players’ name, image or likeness. The athletes would receive the money after their eligibility is up.

Bouton said the problem is not the athletes’ desire to be compensated; it’s those who are seeing the athletes’ situation as a way to profit.

“All these people see this chunk of the pie and all this money… they’re just chasing money,” Bouton said. “These people don’t care what the impact is, they just see this television money and they want to get their hands on it, and they find former student-athletes [to do that].”

Dr. Rhonda Hatcher, TCU’s faculty athletics representative, said even the potential to earn $20,000 for some student-athletes would not curb the legal problems.

“It doesn’t seem like it can do anything but make it worse,” Hatcher said.

The amateurism model

“How do you differentiate on the team that this athlete’s worth this much and you’re only worth this much?” Bouton said.

It’s a question officials have a tough time answering.

“I think we all agree that there are not 85 football players whose name, likeness and image are probably worth that,” Bouton said. “However, they’re in this lawsuit, and they say that because of television.”

The questions aren’t just about comparing players to each other. University brands play a role as well.

Hatcher used junior TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin as an example.

“[For] the value of his jersey, how much is in the value because it’s a TCU jersey vs. a Boykin jersey?” Hatcher said.

Mike Scott, TCU’s director of scholarships and student financial aid, said he wasn’t sure how to fix the problem, but he knew it was unfair for student-athletes. He brought up former Texas A&M standout Johnny Manziel.

“I’m not a Johnny Manziel fan necessarily, but at the time the NCAA was talking about him selling his autograph, and that’s illegal…At the same time, you could go to the NCAA website and buy a Johnny Manziel football jersey that the NCAA profits off of,” Scott said. “That’s not right either.”

Hatcher said all the debate over name, image and likeness and its potential fallout have officials questioning whether or not college athletics will remain “amateur.”

“It isn’t that the arguments aren’t all rational, but once you let that out, at some point we’re just professional,” Hatcher said. “Right now, we’re really different from the NFL in that they really are students. The media talks about these guys like they’re professional athletes. They go to class just like everybody else.”

But that could change if student-athletes were paid like professionals, Hatcher said.

“Once you let individual students get a salary and market themselves, I don’t know what it looks like, but it’s not amateur anymore,” Hatcher said. “Then it’s like professional, and I don’t know what it becomes eventually.”

The recruiting advantage

One high school athletic director compared Division I recruiting to the nuclear arms race.

Mike Overton, head football coach and athletic director at John Horn High School in Mesquite, said he thinks compensating athletes for name, image and likeness is only going to add to the disastrous state of high school recruiting.

“Right now, there’s the facilities race in college football,” Overton said. “It’s a bidding war. I’m not opposed to giving the athletes some money, but there has to be a limit.”

Power 5 conferences already have recruiting advantages. Hatcher said name, image and likeness compensation will only boost that even more.

“I don’t see how Wyoming or somebody recruits anybody,” Hatcher said.

Bouton said using fair market value to pay athletes would incite an even bigger bidding war.

“[A college will] say [it] can get you $500,000 fair market value versus $70,000 at another school. Is Johnny Manziel’s junior-year autograph or image worth $70,000? No, no one’s is,” Bouton said. “But this would happen if you create a fair market. It’s a false market. It’s not real.”

Even without such a bidding war, the current ruling on name, image and likeness is going to drive up expenses for universities.

“Where does the money come from?” Hatcher said. “If you have to put out all this money to pay student athletes; then pay women to balance, there’s a real concern that men’s olympic sports are going to go away. No [schools] have an infinite budget.”

Administrators don’t want the rising costs to affect other university students. Scott said he doesn’t think that would happen at TCU.

“We still have to worry about the rest of the student body,” Scott said.

Hatcher said the debate over name, image and likeness is just beginning.

“I’m not a lawyer, but is this really gonna be the end of this legal fight?” she said.