It’s (almost) time to pay college athletes


In a landmark move, the National College Athletics Association (NCAA) has ruled that student-athletes can benefit from their name, image and likeness although it will take a few years for it to fully take into effect.

After California governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 206 into law on Sept. 30, 2019, it prevented the NCAA “from disqualifying teams from competition if players are compensated for the use of their personal brand, the Los Angeles Times reported,” it said in an Inside Higher Ed article.

Nearly a month later, the NCAA’s Board of Governors “voted unanimously to permit students participating in athletics the opportunity to benefit from the use of their name, image and likeness in a manner consistent with the collegiate model,” the NCAA said in an Oct. 29, 2019 statement.

Although the benefit ruling won’t take effect immediately, “the NCAA Board of Governors Federal and State Legislation Working Group, which includes presidents, commissioners, athletics directors, administrators and student-athletes” have already started working towards new rules that will ultimately be installed Jan. 1, 2023.

“The working group will continue to gather feedback through April on how best to respond to the state and federal legislative environment and to refine its recommendations on the principles and regulatory framework,” the NCAA’s statement included. “The board asked each division to create any new rules beginning immediately, but no later than January 2021.”

With that, conversations will ensue to change the scope of collegiate athletics and some current collegiate student-athletes from Sealy weighed in with their opinions on the ruling that likely won’t have any effect on them.

“I think it’s a good look; we sacrifice a lot of things, we don’t get to do what regular students do and I feel like there should be some reward to that,” said Arizona State triple jumper Tyrek McNeese, Sealy High class of 2018.

“I think it’s a big step forward because we’re finally getting to get paid for our labor since we’re spending nearly 40 hours a week on athletics,” added Rice pitcher Garrett Zaskoda, Sealy High class of 2019.

However, another former Sealy trackster still has some uncertainty on how he feels and can see each side of the coin.

“I guess I’m kind of on both sides; all in all, they are paying for our college is the way I feel about it,” said current Sam Houston State pole vaulter Clayton Fritsch, Sealy High class of 2017. “They’re paying for your school, but I feel like there should be some rules about if you want to go straight out of high school to the pros, that’s a great option they should at least open those doors up.”

In the baseball realm, those doors are already opened and Justin Eckhardt, a current Texas pitcher and Sealy High class of 2018, also sees it as a positive.

“A lot of kids that are superstar players out of high school they’re the ones getting drafted out of high school to professional teams,” he said. “It’s just based on your success in your sport and if you happen to benefit from that then I’m totally on board with that.”

His former skipper, current Sealy head baseball coach Dane Bennett, could see how the recruiting aspect of things will be changed in this new era of collegiate athletics.

“You sell Justin Eckhardt to UT but if you think he’s gonna go in and make more money as a player, I would say yes you would try to promote him a little bit different,” he said. “Tell them, ‘Hey this guy’s gonna come to your college and make you a lot of money, and he’s gonna make himself a lot of money.’”

With that extra cash flow going around, he also could see how it can draw more participation in the coming years as well.

“My personal opinion is that it will make more people want to go to college and play sports so I think it will make college sports better,” Bennett said. “But if they do that, most people are trying to get as minimal college as they can – or if you’re a baseball player you’re trying to go right to the pros – because you’re ready to start making the money so I think that if they start finding ways to benefit players while they’re in college that’s gonna make more people want to go and be a part of the college.”

McNeese agreed that everything surrounding collegiate sports will likely see an increase.

“It’ll make it bigger, it’s already a big deal a lot of people already watch college athletics but I feel like with money involved it will make everything multiplied,” he said. “We’ll see, maybe it’ll make athletes go harder or maybe not because they’re getting paid so I don’t know we’ll see.”

One big question on the athletes’ minds, however, is how is the NCAA going to equalize the benefits and how are student-athletes on the same campus going to feel about a wage gap?

“I’m not gonna be upset (if other athletes are making more money than me),” said Zaskoda. “I’ll keep doing me and not let it get to me. If you’re good enough to get paid for what you do, then get paid but hopefully one day we’ll all get paid.”

“We have bowling, they’re not making much money but if you have your absolute standout of an athlete then that helps that person for a little while,” Fritsch said. “Not every track athlete is going to get these big offers but you do have Mondo (Duplantis, who recently forewent his final three years of college at LSU to go pro in the pole vault pit) who came in and how he’s already built that likeness up and Matthew Boling from Strake Jesuit, those guys have their likeness already but at the same time they are already getting their school paid for, the education is where they see you’re getting paid but if there’s other benefits coming with it then I could see that you get paid a little more for spending money but it really depends where those people come from and their background; I totally understand that they’re trying to make some more money, gotta make it while you can!”

And with more money could come higher-quality amenities for all involved.

“I would say revenue will increase for universities based on jersey sales or memorabilia,” Eckhardt said. “If that were to happen then they’re more likely to build nicer facilities, better surroundings for fans at stadiums, just a better overall college atmosphere both for the players and the fans.”

At the end of the day, the ruling has been something on the minds of athletes for quite some time now.

“Some of them with big names like (former Duke guard and NBA’s No. 1 overall pick) Zion Williamson have been cheated out of millions of dollars while the NCAA gets like $60 billion a year off that so I think it’s a big step forward for us, it’s been a long time coming,” Zaskoda added.


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