We, the University, agree to provide you, the Scholarship Athlete, with a free or reduced cost educational program.
You, the Scholarship Athlete, agree to remain academically eligible to continue attendance at the University.
You also agree to abide by the team rules of your Scholarship sport.
Thus, as long as you do not get kicked off your team and you don’t flunk out of school, we will continue your scholarship.
What you do with your free time, and with whom you associate, and how you might earn income is not our business.
Among the things included in “not our business”:
- Whether and when you choose to sign with an agent or a professional sports organization.
- Implication: Yes you can sign with an agent/or a pro team and play college ball anyway. Or play college ball after you’ve played as a pro.
- Whether or not you license your name or image to commercial interests
- Note that the University retains rights to its own trademarks.
- Whether or not you sell stuff that you own
Money the University gets from ticket sales and local media rights will used according to policies set by a University Council, which will include direct representation of the Scholarship Athletes. This Council would also deal with issues about income from common properties (such as a game jersey with your name and our logo on it).
Similarly, money that the Conference or the National Organization of Conferences (think NCAA) gets from the sales of media rights for the sporting activities of the teams will be used according to policies set by a National Council which will include direct representation of the Scholarship Athletes. This Council will also be responsible for setting minimum academic standards for the member Universities (subject to enhancement by the Conferences and individual Universities), and for other national policy making.
Other policy making would include such things as eligibility rules (i.e. 5 years to play 4), Transfer rules, etc.
( One would hope that the National Council would not be set up as a confrontational body with the traditional powers on one side and the Scholarship Athletes on the other.
Ideally, it would include the larger set of interested parties. For example, a representative of each of these:
National Organization of Conferences
University Student Organization
Professional Sports Association
(Fan’s representative somehow???)
Medical Advisor )
The Scholarship Athletes have the right to collective bargaining, including the right withhold their services. Conversely, the University, Conference or National Organization has the right to suspend or terminate their support of teams or of entire sports (subject to Title IX considerations).
Note that the participation of a Scholarship Athlete in any authorized collective bargaining action shall not be considered breakage of team rules.
I see very little likelihood of this resulting in massive upheaval. The point is to give the Athletes a seat at the table, and to let them control their own lives and careers beyond the basic requirements of remaining in good standing on the team and in the classroom.
Like any collective bargaining situation, if one side gets overly zealous and begins to ruin things for everybody, it tends to self correct with consumer backlash.
And yes, this will result in deep pocketed Boosters and Corporations funneling money to the benefit of their favorite schools and ignoring the lesser schools. Which is exactly what happens now. And all the best players will end up signing with all the richest Universities. Which is exactly what happens now.
Unlike before, the players may be getting a chunk of that money directly, above board. Is that so terrible? They’ll be privileged stand-outs among their student peers. As they are now.
What you won’t have is the NCAA sniffing around for evidence of people other than them trying to make money at the money-making-machine that is College Sports. They’ll spend their time looking for academic fraud, which is what they should be doing now.
Taken to logical extremes, then:
There’s some High School ballplayers that are REALLY good, but the NBA isn’t ready to put them on court just yet. So they get drafted by the NBA, sign contracts as they see fit, but opt for college anyway. Some college really, really wants to win championships, so they also fork over money to these kids. They go to that school, get much better as the year goes on, and when it’s over go play pro. How is that different than what Kentucky did this year? Except that the boys make money legally, without risking their entire life’s livelihood playing for nothing for a year.
Lesser players would get less money or no money. With the NBA or NFL being there in the background, college teams wouldn’t end up with “Salary Cap” issues, since a player of sufficient talent will always get a greater amount of money from the professional organization, either to stay in school and improve, or to jump up to the pros. Teams like, say, Kentucky, would have to balance the desire for instant gratification that comes from recruiting one-and-done players vs. the continuity of having less great, but more experienced players. Same as now.
Weak teams will rely only on scholarships as an incentive for their players. Same as now. And sometimes they’ll beat the big boys anyway. Any maybe occasionally, they’ll migrate up the food chain and become elite. Again, same as now.
In summary, we end up with – in one sense – a development league for the NBA or NFL. A league populated at the top with players whose main interest is preparing for their professional careers. Alongside these elite prospects are some players that are good enough to compete with them, but not likely to make the next step. And then there’s a whole lot of other guys who have no chance at a professional sports career, but want the experience and the free education. Same.
It seems to me that this or something like it is where we’re going to end up anyway, so why not plan it.