By Ken Reed
NCAA coaches, primarily in football and men’s and women’s basketball, are pulling their hair out due to the Wild West nature of the new NIL (name, image and likeness) model in college sports today. They are having to constantly re-recruit their athletes as other schools are subtlely and not so subtlely trying to steal their best players — with multi-million dollar offers in some cases. They are having to spend time trying to build a funding collective at their schools that will allow them to compete financially for players. They are having to deal with competitors that have few rules, or in some cases, no rules, when it comes to offering athletes NIL money. Athletes, on the other hand, are getting NIL offers reneged upon after they commit to certain schools. In addition to listening to sales pitches from coaches, they are also having to sort out financial offers from boosters at the schools they are interested in.
In short, college sports are a mess right now.
Today’s NIL market was created by a few things: 1) The NCAA’s long fight to not share sports revenues with players; 2) a 2021 Supreme Court decision (9-0) in the case of NCAA vs. Alston, which declared that rules limiting athlete compensation violated antitrust laws; and 3) States growing tired of the NCAA’s refusal to grant athletes basic civil and economic rights and, as a result, creating Olympic-like NIL models in their particular states in which athletes can be compensated for their names, images and likenesses via sponsorships, endorsements, appearances in stores, etc.
Make no mistake, it’s been long overdue that college athletes be allowed to get more compensation than the standard tuition and room and board that good ol’ State U has traditionally offered. So, the new NIL model is a positive step for college athletes except for one thing: there are basically no rules. Due to the NCAA doing nothing regarding compensation for athletes in general, and NIL compensation in particular, states decided to develop their own rules and guidelines for NIL compensation for college athletes. This has resulted in chaos, for everyone involved, and an unbalanced playing field because what a given university (more specifically, a given university’s booster collective) in a given state might be able to offer an athlete is different than what another university’s booster collective in another state can offer.
The NCAA has thrown up its hands and gone to Congress begging for regulations that would standardize and limit athletes’ civil and economic rights. In addition to asking for NIL limits, they are also fighting reform efforts in Congress that would allow players to be recognized as employees. Being recognized as employees would allow all college athletes to get such things as better health care from the schools they create millions of dollars in revenue for.
The players, meanwhile, continue to lack a lobbying group through which they could counter the NCAA’s arguments before Congress and through which they could share their own issues and challenges.
The NCAA brought this current situation on itself by refusing to even consider ways that athletes could get a bigger slice of the multi-billion dollar college sports pie. Instead, they decided to fight against any and all efforts to grant the civil and economic rights to athletes that we all take for granted. The losers are the players, coaches, and fans who have to deal with the chaotic situation we have in college sports today.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
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Episode #28 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Chat With Mano Watsa, a Leading Basketball and Life Educator – Watsa is President of PGC Basketball, the largest education basketball camp in the world. We discuss problems in youth sports today.
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Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
- Reed Appears on Ralph Nader Radio Hour League of Fans’ sports policy director, Ken Reed, Ralph Nader and the New York Times’ Tyler Kepner discussed a variety of sports issues on Nader’s radio show as well as Reed’s updated book, How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan. Reed's book was released in paperback in February, and has a new introduction and several updated sections.
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
Vanderbilt Sport & Society - On The Ball with Andrew Maraniss with guest Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director for League of Fans and author of How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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