By Ken Reed

The NCAA won’t let go.

In their minds, NCAA executives view the grossly outdated amateur model (one that that Olympics dropped ages ago) as the only way to conduct college athletics.

It seems the NCAA’s only strategy at this point is to beg Congress for an antitrust exemption so they can continue lining their pockets with cash while treating college athletes in an unjust manner.

In the meantime, the NCAA keeps losing case after case in the courts.

In NCAA v. Alston, the NCAA lost the ruling 9-0. Justice Brett Kavanaugh offered this opinion:

“Nowhere else in America can businesses get away with agreeing not to pay their workers a fair market rate on the theory that their product is defined by not paying their workers a fair market value.”

As Dan Wolken wrote in a recent USA Today column:

“By now, this is a familiar pattern. The NCAA’s arguments in favor of amateurism sound ridiculous to judges when they are held up against the law because they are ridiculous in any other context than the tradition of college sports.”

Meanwhile, college sports have become the Wild, Wild West where almost anything goes. The NCAA fought against name, image and likeness (NIL) rights for athletes for so long that individual states had to step in and create their own rules by which college athletes could exercise NIL rights. That was a positive development but since the NCAA failed to act proactively, states across the country implemented different sets of NIL rules for college athletes. As a result, college sports have become a chaotic mess.

One organization the NCAA should spend more time listening to is the National College Players Association (NCPA). The NCPA is a 501c3 non-profit headed by former UCLA linebacker Ramogi Huma. The organization, made up of current and former college athletes, has been a leader in the college athletes’ rights movement since 2001. They have focused on health and safety for players, Title IX enforcement, and fair compensation for athletes. They have been a key driver for NCAA reform the past couple decades.

The bottom line is, the NCAA is losing the battle over college athletes’ rights. Congress isn’t going to grant them an antitrust exemption. Momentum is definitely on the side of the players as they fight for their civil and economic rights.

“I think the Power Five and NCAA proposals are dead in the water,” says Huma. “They went to Congress and they lost, at this point, all they can do is play defense, which is what we were doing at first. Now, we’re playing offense.”

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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