NCAA tries to kick pay-for-play farther down road
This is an April 25, 2018, file photo, showing NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis. The NCAA Board of Governors took the first step Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2019, toward allowing athletes to cash in on their fame, voting unanimously to clear the way for the amateur athletes to "benefit from the use of their name, image and likeness." The United States' largest governing body for college athletics realized that it "must embrace change to provide the best possible experience for college athletes," the board said in a news release issued after the vote at Emory University in Atlanta. | Darron Cummings/AP

ATLANTA (AP) — The NCAA just doesn’t get it.

Under pressure from all sides — legislators, advocates, athletes, pretty much anyone who can spot an injustice when they see it — the group that governs college athletics revealed a fierce determination to keep an iron grip on the two things it cares about most.

Money and power.

A much-ballyhooed announcement Tuesday, supposedly the first significant step toward coming up with a way to fairly compensate those who bring in the Benjamins, was really nothing more than a blatant attempt to kick the pay-for-play can farther down the road.

The NCAA essentially wants to give its players a chance to set up some inconsequential side hustles that might generate just enough money to keep everyone at bay, all while ensuring that nothing interferes with those billions of dollars that its member schools rake in because of those highly talented athletes.

“One of our principles is not to move to a model where we turn athletes into employees,” Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said. “Whatever we come up with will not be something where we actually pay players. That’s just not going to happen for us. We believe in the collegiate model, not the professional model.”

It’s easy to see why.

Those in charge are perfectly content with a labor system that essentially allows them to set the maximum wage at zero. Sure, the athletes are getting something of value for holding down their full-time jobs — tuition, room and room, plus a small stipend — but that is a pittance when compared to the revenue that schools such as Georgia and Texas and Ohio State are generating with their athletic programs.

Take Georgia, which has committed some $174 million to upgrading and building facilities just since Kirby Smart took over as football coach in 2016, on top of spending more on recruiting than any other program, not to mention doling out some $13 million in annual pay to Smart and his coaching staff.

The Bulldogs will tell you it’s just the cost of doing business in the cutthroat Southeastern Conference. They’ll point to South Carolina and Florida recently completing $50 million facilities, or LSU spending $28 million on a renovation of its football locker room.

To add some perspective, if LSU doled out $25,000 a year to 100 players, it would take more than 11 years to spend $28 million.


Paul Newberry
Paul Newberry

Sports writer at Associated Press.