HomeSportsWill College Athletes Make Money? Here’s Where the Debate Stands.

Will College Athletes Make Money? Here’s Where the Debate Stands.

Although many college sports executives have pressed for action by July 1, it appears increasingly unlikely that officials in Washington will reach an agreement in the next few weeks.

Could the N.C.A.A. sue to stop the state laws?

Yes, and the association and its president, Mark Emmert, have refused to rule out that possibility.

The N.C.A.A. successfully batted down a state challenge to its authority in the early 1990s. That case, though, involved a single state law, and experts have cautioned that fighting the assorted statutes now would mean a multifront battle with potentially uneven results.

How much are players probably going to be making?

Some stars, particularly in football and basketball, could make millions. But many more college athletes, including plenty in those same sports, could likely generate thousands or tens of thousands of dollars in earnings. Some won’t make any money. The laws do not guarantee any deals; they just make them possible.

Jim Cavale, the chief executive of INFLCR, an Alabama firm that many schools have hired to help students understand the rules and opportunities, said he generally thinks of players in three categories. One bucket includes the mega stars of college sports who will strike the biggest deals with the biggest companies. The largest group includes talented athletes who are particularly savvy with technology and are positioned to capitalize, mainly through their online presences. The third segment includes players who will be more likely to cut a gift card deal, with, say, a local pizzeria.

How much all of them will make, though, could shift over time.

“This whole thing is going to be evolved through the data of what happens,” Cavale said.

It’s 2021. Why has this taken so long?

Take your pick of explanations. A crucial one is that, for reasons as much financial and legal as philosophical, it took a lot of college sports leaders a long time to warm up to the idea that students should be allowed to earn more than what it costs to attend school.

And although California passed a law in 2019 to allow players to profit off their fame (it has not yet taken effect) and pushed the N.C.A.A. toward changes, the N.C.A.A. is hardly designed for speedy action. The coronavirus pandemic, which sent the finances of the N.C.A.A. and college athletic departments nationwide into crisis, did not help the timetable.


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