With there being multiple lawsuits involving the NCAA, including the Ed O’Bannon suit regarding the use of student-athlete (current and past) names, images and likenesses, collegiate athletics could potentially look a lot different in the near future than they do now.
Another of those lawsuits is being led by Jeffery Kessler, who’s seeking a free market to pay men’s basketball and football players. With those two sports bringing in most of the television revenues in college sports, the argument has been made that these scholarship athletes deserve a much larger piece of the “pie” than they currently receive. One of the plaintiffs in the suit is Wisconsin forward Nigel Hayes, who testified March 4 for the case.
According to CBSSports.com excerpts of Hayes’ deposition were unsealed Thursday, and the rising junior believes that individual schools should be allowed to decide just how much they give athletes if they were allowed to make payments. Hayes also provided his thoughts on how men’s basketball and football players being paid would impact equivalency (Olympic) sports.
When asked by an attorney for the defendants how he would feel if taking care of the basketball class meant fewer opportunities for non-revenue athletes, Hayes replied, “That would be something I’d care about, because I have friends who play other sports. But I have no reason to believe that would happen with the amount of money that my sport, as well as the FBS, generates.”
Hayes said he wants to let schools decide in a free market how much to pay each player. If schools had the opportunity to decide, “players would be better off” than they are today and schools would act “responsibly and fairly” when deciding who to pay, Hayes testified.
Of course there will be opposition to Hayes’ comments, but frankly it’s good that he and other athletes are looking to be directly involved in the process. While there are committees made up of student-athletes, they really haven’t had much of a voice until recently and these cases deserve some credit for that.
As for the scholarship money, some schools have already made changes when it comes to the packages they offer their athletes. With “Power Five” conferences being granted autonomy and 79 of the 80 schools approving additional funds to meet the full cost of attendance (Boston College was the lone school to oppose the measure), scholarship athletes should benefit in the near future.
Of course some of that is due to the ongoing litigation, as such moves could help the NCAA and its membership avoid even harder hits to its current setup. But with schools already looking to increase their offerings to athletes, this will be something that impacts recruiting. How it will impact collegiate athletics and how they’re set up won’t be known until these lawsuits are resolved.