Adil Naqvi

The ball is in whose court?

As college students, we have to balance school, work and a personal life. At the end of the day you can see the struggle is real when trying to balance all of these things — now imagine being a student athlete on top of that.

So, California recently tried to get the ball rolling in terms of payment to student athletes. After the push from California and other states, the NCAA board of Governors unanimously voted to allow college athletes to earn money off their name, image and likeness. How is what the NCAA doing different than what the individual states are doing?

Well, if you look at the legislation passed by the states, you can see they’re similar in the fact that they agree athletes should be paid, but some states have different aspects in their legislation than others.

California signed a bill that allows student athletes to earn endorsements. New York proposed a bill that states the NCAA will set aside 15% of all college sports related revenue and pay it to students. A senator in North Carolina suggested taxing scholarships of college athletes, leaving the possibility that college athletes will owe money on the scholarships they receive.

Now, do I think the NCAA is trying to jump ahead and set the standard after being backed into a corner? Yes. Is that a bad thing? Maybe not.

As you can see, states are interpreting how to pursue this change on a state-by-state basis instead of at a federal level. This could lead to an unachievable goal of providing an unbiased playing field to the 1,100 campuses and half a million student athletes nationwide. This could also lead to some states — like North Carolina, in my opinion — making some questionable legislative changes.

Now that the NCAA has taken a step in the right direction by giving students the ability to make money off their reputation, what does that mean and what if states push for their own laws and regulations? Will the NCAA cease to exist?

I don’t think the NCAA is going anywhere at the moment, mainly due to this discrepancy and their effort to get ahead of it. But without consistency in legislation nationwide, the NCAA will end. If they can’t set the pace and keep it, the NCAA will most likely be gone.

Now, Sen. Brian Kelsey, a Republican from Germantown, is pushing for Tennessee’s public universities to compensate student athletes at the collegiate level; stating that collegiate athletes are “little more than indentured servants” and that free college does not adequately reimburse student athletes for their labors.

If this passes in Tennessee — giving students the right to their own names, likeness and image — then there will be even more leverage against the NCAA to give students a better deal, providing economic equity and equality.

Think about it. The athletes are getting an education, the school is getting tens of millions of dollars, but the NCAA is getting Billions with a capital B. There is also this so-called “Flutie Effect,” where there is an increase in college admissions following big sports wins or good sports programs. With the new reform, we can see the change would impact college sports enormously, but only time will tell how it will impact college sports economically (sports agents, brand deals, advertising, recruiting, student athletes switching to the highest bidder, taxes), and maybe soon we’ll see some Ferrari’s on campus.

Adil Naqvi is a senior majoring in finance and supply chain management. He can be reached at anaqvi@vols.utk.edu.

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