Chase Young, James Wiseman NCAA Inconsistent Rule Enforcement

Chase Young James Wiseman

If anyone is still wondering why lawmakers are so interested in college athletes’ rights, they got their answer last weekend. The NCAA once again demonstrated how unfair their rules are and how they are inconsistently enforced when they declared college football’s and men’s basketball top players ineligible. Ohio State University’s (OSU) defensive end and Heisman Trophy contender, Chase Young, was declared ineligible just ahead of OSU’s game against Maryland. Similarly, the University of Memphis (Memphis) men’s basketball center, James Wiseman, was declared ineligible prior to their game against Illinois-Chicago.  

A reasonable fan may wonder why the NCAA would declare their top performers in their major revenue-producing sports ineligible? Did they get caught cheating on a test? Did they engage in illegal activity? Most would agree that if the answer to those questions is yes, the players deserve their punishment. However, that is not the case for Young nor Wiseman. Neither of them did anything clearly wrong. They were both declared ineligible for receiving financial assistance. Why would the NCAA  declare a “student-athlete” ineligible for receiving needed financial assistance?

The answer is simple. The NCAA’s primary motive is to protect the farce of amateurism. For the NCAA, that means making sure athletes are not given any benefit that is not NCAA approved. No matter how dire an athletes’ need is. Chase Young’s and James Wiseman’s cases are textbook examples of the NCAA’s commitment to their rules; even when it defies all logic.

Chase Young’s Case 

Young was suspended for accepting a loan from a family friend. He reportedly accepted the loan to pay for his girlfriend’s trip to watch him play in the Rose Bowl last season.  That is right, Young was declared ineligible for getting a loan from a family friend so that someone he cares for could be there to support him. Here is the real kicker: Young repaid the loan in April. The person who gave Young the loan is not a booster nor an agent.

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Despite those facts, the NCAA still suspended him. The NCAA felt it right to disrupted Young’s potentially Heisman Trophy-winning and record-breaking season to reaffirm their position on unapproved financial assistance. All Chase Young wanted was for his girlfriend to be there to support him while he gave his body to make millions of dollars for others. Young will serve a two-game suspension for taking a loan from a family friend and paying it back. Somehow, the NCAA believes that this is fair and is the right thing to do. It is precisely these type of decisions by the NCAA that makes lawmakers feel the need to get involved.

james wiseman

James Wiseman’s Case

James Wiseman’s eligibility issue stems from a rather complicated story. Here is the crux of his eligibility issue. Wiseman’s eligibility is in jeopardy due to an $11,500 payment that the current Memphis coach, Penny Hardaway, gave to Wiseman’s mother in 2017. At the time, Wiseman did not know about money. The money was intended to cover moving expenses when Wiseman’s family moved to Memphis.

However, this is not why the NCAA declared Wiseman ineligible. The NCAA declared him ineligible because they determined that Penny Hardaway was a booster due to a 1 million dollar donation he made to Memphis in 2008. The donation was made to fund the school’s Penny Hardaway Hall of Fame. Since the NCAA determined that Hardaway was a booster, the $11,500 that he gave to Wiseman’s mom is impermissible under NCAA rules.

According to NCAA rules, this would make Wiseman ineligible. However, the problem here is that the NCAA knew about the $11,500 payment. With that knowledge, the NCAA declared Wiseman eligible. For some reason, the NCAA has gone back on that decision and declared him ineligible. How is this fair? The answer is that it is not fair. James Wiseman’s case reaffirms how inconsistent the NCAA is in its rule enforcement. It is for this reason, that lawmakers have begun advocating for college athlete rights.

Wiseman’s Case is not Over Yet as he has Sued the NCAA

Wiseman has sued the NCAA and Memphis. He also obtained a temporary injunction on his suspension that has allowed him to continue to play. On Monday, the case will resume where Wiseman will as for an injunction to continue playing. If Wiseman is successful in this suit it could dire ramifications for the NCAA and their ability to enforce their eligibility rules.

The NCAA Continues to Prove that Legislative Action is Necessary

What point does the NCAA really think it is making by declaring Young and Wiseman ineligible? All the NCAA has done is further make themselves bad an unable to consistently enforce their rules. They have inadvertently strengthened the case for college athlete name, image, and likeness (NIL) compensation legislation. After all if Young had able to profit from his NIL he may not have needed the loan. As coaches’ salaries and television revenue continues to soar,  the NCAA cannot continue to justify its actions in cases like Young’s and Wiseman’s. The NCAA’s unfairness and inconsistency in its rule enforcement are precisely why lawmakers have gotten involved. Their involvement appears to be necessary.

Pressure is on for the NCAA Name, Image, Likeness (NIL) Working Group

NCAA Name Image Likeness NIL Pay college athletes

California Governor Gavin Newsom created a firestorm when he signed the Fair Pay to Play Act into law. Starting in 2023, college athletes in California will be able to profit from their name, image, and likeness (NIL). They will also be able to sign with agents. After the act became law, several states announced plans to enact similar legislation. Among those states, was the state of Flordia. Two lawmakers in Florida proposed bills seeking to give college athletes including NCAA players the ability to profit from their name, image, and likeness (NIL). Last week, Florida Governor, Ron DeSantis, endorsed the proposed legislation. This is a major development regarding college athlete rights. It could mean that if either of the proposed bills makes it to DeSantis’ desk, he will likely sign it into law. Therefore, Florida could become the next state to allow college athletes to profit from their NIL.

However, the NCAA still has a chance to get out ahead of this NIL compensation issue. The NCAA could amend its rules to allow college athletes to profit from their NIL. The NCAA already has a working group set to address the issue soon. What would happen if the NCAA did just that and allowed college athletes to profit from their NIL? Would that make the Fair Pay to Play Act a non-issue? Would the federal government still enact a law addressing the issue? Before these questions can be answered, it is important to understand why so many state and federal lawmakers have come out in support of college athletes’ rights.

The Reason So Many Legislators are Interested in College Athletes’ Rights

The short answer is because it is the right thing to do. College sports are a billion-dollar industry. It is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore the blatant inequities in college sports. The benefits that college athletes receive pales in comparison to the benefits that their labor bestows upon others. For example, It was recently reported that several high profile college coaches have access to private jets for personal use. Access to such amenities are apart of their contracts.

As if it was not enough for some coaches to make severely more money than the governor of the state in which they coach, they have to have access to private jets too.

It is things like this that make it extremely hard to argue that college athletes should not be allowed to have a bigger piece of the college sports pie. Governor DeSantis realized this fact when he was attending a football game. His reason for endorsing the proposed legislation stems from him realizing that members of the marching band can make money promoting music on their YouTube channel. However, the football players who perform in the same field do not have a similar ability to profit from their talents. It is this inherent inequity and unfairness between the rights and abilities of college athletes versus those of other students that have sparked the interest of so many lawmakers.

What Happens if the NCAA Amends its Rules to Allow NIL Compensation?

While state and federal lawmakers are busy drafting college athletes’ rights legislation, the NCAA’s working group plans to address the issue. The working group is expected to announce its findings and recommendations very soon. The pressure is certainly on for the NCAA. Everyone is waiting to see if the NCAA will make recommendations that actually benefit college athletes. If the NCAA does amend its rules to allow college athletes to profit from their NIL, what will that mean for the Fair Pay to Play Act and other proposed legislation?

A World Where the NCAA Allows College Athletes to Profit From Their NIL

If the NCAA amends its rules in a meaningful way to allow NIL compensation, there is a chance that the NCAA could make the need for legislation go away. The Fair Pay to Play Act is not set to go into effect until 2023. Accordingly, the NCAA has time to remedy this situation themselves. However, in order to accomplish that the NCAA has to be willing to make meaningful change and allow college athletes to profit from their NIL and sign with agents with essentially no strings attached. The NCAA should not try to “tether” the endorsements to education or subject them to any other stipulation. The NCAA should do the right thing and allow college athletes to profit from their NIL like the Fair Pay to Play Act other proposed legislation intends to do.

If the NCAA does that there will not be a need for legislation and it will make the Fair Pay to Play Act obsolete. However, the NCAA’s track record paints a pretty bleak picture that they will do that. Furthermore, the stance that members of the working group have taken on the issue does not lead one to believe that meaningful change will be coming from the working group. Based on this, it is likely that some form of legislation will be necessary. However, the true outcome of the NIL compensation working group remains to be seen.

Like Dominos, States are Falling into the College Athlete NIL Movement

compensate College Athletes

Last week, California Governor Gavin Newsom set a trend when he signed the Fair Pay to Play Act into law on LeBron James’ hit show The Shop. The new law will take effect in 2023. The Fair Pay to Play Act will give college athletes in California the ability to profit from their name, image, and likeness (NIL). Specifically, college athletes will be allowed to garner endorsement deals and otherwise monetize their NIL without losing eligibility. The law also allows college athletes to sign with agents. The Fair Pay to Play Act is proving to be a trendsetter. Several states have announced plans to join the college athlete NIL movement.

Prior to the Fair Pay to Play Act being signed into law, a few other states had plans to introduce similar legislation to comp. Since the Fair Pay to Play Act became law states in almost every region of the country have announced plans to create similar legislation. The NCAA’s threats to ban California colleges from post-season play has been no match for legislators who are determined to do what is right for college athletes. These legislators are determined to create a more equitable college athletics system.

Currently, college athletes propel a billion-dollar college sports industry and are limited to a cost-of-attendance scholarship for their efforts. Meanwhile, coaches’ salaries continue to grow and the non-profit NCAA generates a billion-dollars per year. Several state and federal lawmakers are determined to give college athletes a bigger piece of the pie. Let’s take a look at the states that have joined the college athlete NIL movement since the passage of the Fair Pay to Play Act.

States With Plans to Introduce College Athlete NIL Legislation

In the midwest, Illinois and Minnesota state lawmakers have announced plans to introduce a college athlete NIL bills. Pennsylvania and Maryland are both considering introducing legislation similar to the Fair Pay to Play Act. Several lawmakers in Nevada have stated that they would consider introducing similar legislation. A lawmaker in Kentucky is reportedly drafting a bill addressing college athlete compensation. Perhaps the most notable state to join the college athlete NIL movement is the state of Florida.

Two Florida lawmakers have already filed bills. On October 4, Chip LaMarca filed HB 287. This bill seeks to allow college athletes to profit from their name, image, and likeness. If signed into law, it will become effective on July 1, 2020. Prior to HB 287, Florida representative Kionee McGhee filed HB 251. That bill is also set to become effective on July 1, 2020. HB 251seeks to allow college athletes to receive “specified compensation.” The bill will also create a Florida College System Athlete Name, Image, and Likeness Task Force. With these two bills, Florida is bound to give college athletes the ability to profit from their NIL.

Download the Podcast Detailing CA and the Other States Legislation

The College Athlete NIL Movement has a Potential Newcomer on the Federal Level

The current collegiate model is not only being challenged on the state level. The collegiate model is being challenged at the federal level as well. Earlier this year, U.S. Congressman Mark Walker introduced the Student-Athlete Equity Act. The NCAA is exempt from federal taxation as an organization that organizes amateur sports and national championships. The Student-Athlete Equity Act seeks to remove that exemption if the NCAA continues to enforce rules that prohibit college athletes from profiting from their NIL. In addition to this fight at the federal level, the NCAA is about to face another one.

A U.S. Congressman from Ohio is planning to introduce a federal bill similar to the Fair Pay to Play Act. Representative Anthony Gonzalez, a former Ohio State wide receiver, plans to introduce a federal bill that will allow college athletes to profit from their name, image, and likeness. Gonzalez would like to see NIL compensation become a reality before 2020. However, he may wait until the NCAA’s NIL working group releases its’ findings before introducing legislation.

Paying College Athletes has Bipartisan Support

As more state and federal lawmakers announce plans to introduce college athlete legislation, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the issue has bipartisan support. Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers have been vocal in support of the legislation. Perhaps this is because they all can see the blatant inequities in the current collegiate sports system. In a capitalist society, no one can reasonably support the notion that college athletes should be prohibited from profiting from their NIL. The bipartisan support will continue to grow. The NCAA will be forced to enact a meaningful change on the issue or sit back and watch lawmakers do it for them.

What California’s Fair Play to Pay Act means for South Carolina, Colorado legislation

California Fair Play to Pay Act Colorado and South Carolina NCAA

Governor Gavin Newsom broke the internet this morning when a video of him signing the Fair Pay to Play Act into law was released. The Fair Pay to Play Act was one of the hottest issues of the summer. It led everyone to debate if college athletes should be paid above a cost-of-attendance scholarship. The debate is no longer, at least for college athletes in California. Governor Newsom sat with LeBron James on his hit show The Shop and signed the bill into law.

King James was an ardent supporter of the bill. The Fair Pay to Play Act will give college athletes in California the ability to profit from their name, image, and likeness (NIL) and the ability to sign with an agent. Governor Newsom ignored the NCAA’s threat to prohibit colleges in California from participating in post-season championships and signed the bill into law. What will this mean for college athletes in California in 2023 when the bill is set to take effect?

The Fair Pay to Play Act

The Fair Pay to Play Act seeks to accomplish two goals for college athletes attending four-year colleges in California. One goal is to allow them to sign with agents. Pursuant to the bill, the agents must be licensed with the state. The agents must also be fully compliant with the federal Sports Agent Responsibility and Trust Act. The second goal is to give college athletes in California the ability to profit from their name, image, and likeness.

Under the Act, colleges will be prohibited from upholding any rule that prevents college athletes from receiving compensation for their NIL. Any compensation that is earned will not affect the athletes’ scholarships. Furthermore, the NCAA will not be able to keep college athletes from participating in collegiate sports simply because they receive NIL compensation. The NCAA also will not be able to ban a school from participation because its athletes receive NIL compensation.

However, college athletes do not have a blanket rule to enter into a contract without any consideration for their team’s pre-existing contracts. If an athlete enters into a contract, the athlete must inform the school. If the athlete’s contract conflicts with the team’s contract, the athlete will not be able to enter into that contract. However, the team contract will not prevent an athlete from receiving NIL compensation when the athlete is not engaged in official team business. The Act does not apply to prospective college athletes. The Fair Pay to Play Act will only apply to four-year colleges. However, the California legislature intends to create a community college NIL working group to study the California Community College Athletic Association’s rules.

Podcast Discussion About the Name, Image, and Likeness Bills

How will the Fair Pay to Play Act Effect Colleges in other States?

During his appearance on The Shop, Governor Newsom stated that “the [Fair Pay to Play Act] will initiate dozens of other states to introduce similar legislation.” Governor Newsom could not be more right. Before he signed the Fair Pay to Play Act into law other states had already followed suit. For example, New York state senator Kevin Parker introduced the New York Collegiate Athletic Participation Compensation Act. The New York bill is very similar to the Fair Pay to Play Act, but goes a bit further.

New York Collegiate Athletic Participation Compensation Act

The New York Collegiate Athletic Participation Compensation Act also seeks to give college athletes the right to profit from their NIL without losing their scholarship or collegiate eligibility. The bill prohibits New York colleges from upholding any rule that prevents college athletes from receiving NIL compensation. The bill also prohibits the NCAA from banning an athlete from collegiate participation due to NIL compensation. Likewise, the bill prohibits the NCAA from banning colleges whose athletes receive NIL compensation.

Like the Fair Pay to Play Act, college athletes in New York would not have the blanket ability to enter a contract without consideration of their team’s pre-existing contracts. The athletes will be required to inform their school of any contract they enter into. They would not be allowed to enter a contract that conflicts with the team’s contracts. However, a team contract will not prevent an athlete from receiving NIL compensation when the athlete is not engaged in official team business.

The New York Collegiate Athletic Participation Compensation Act also gives college athletes the ability to sign with agents. The agents must be properly registered and compliant with federal laws. The bill also exempts community colleges and calls for a working group to be created to address the NIL issue for community colleges. The bill also does not apply to prospective college athletes. The New York Collegiate Athletic Participation Compensation Act is very similar to the Fair Pay to Play Act. However, the New York bill takes college athlete compensation a couple of steps further.

The New York Collegiate Athletic Participation Compensation Act Seeks to go the Extra Mile

The New York Collegiate Athletic Participation Compensation Act seeks to go the extra mile by requiring that each college establish a fund for injured athletes. With this provision, athletes who suffer a career-ending injury in a practice or game will qualify for the fund. The athletes would receive the money upon graduation. The amount of compensation would be determined by each school. Perhaps most notably, the bill goes further by requiring that each college share 15 percent of its revenue from ticket sales with the athletes. These are major differences because it requires the schools to make direct payments to the athletes. Hopefully, California has broken the ice so that these additions to college athlete compensation can become law.

Colorado and South Carolina Also Have Plans to Follow Suit

Lawmakers in South Carolina and Colorado have already announced their intentions to follow suit. They both plan to submit legislation similar to the Fair Pay to Play Act in their upcoming legislative sessions. South Carolina State senator Marlon Kimpson and representative Justin Bamberg plan to introduce the bill. The bill will require the biggest colleges in South Carolina to pay $5,000 a year stipends to athletes in profitable sports like football and basketball. The bill will also seek to allow college athletes to receive compensation from sponsorships and autograph signings.

The Colorado legislation was introduced last session by state senators Owen Hill and Jeff Bridges. However, it was too late in the session when it was introduced. The senators plan to re-introduce the bill in the next legislative session. The Colorado bill will also require direct payment to college athletes from schools. Former college athlete Jeremy Bloom is a supporter of the Colorado legislation.

Whether the NCAA likes it or not, NIL Payments are Coming

Governor Newsom did not back down to the NCAA. From the looks of things, other states are not going to either. Whether the NCAA likes it or not, NIL compensation is coming. As Maverick Carter pointed out on The Shop, America is a capitalistic society. College athletes should have the same rights to participate in this capitalistic society like every other student. The Fair Pay to Play Act and other similar legislation seek to give college athletes that right. In light of Governor Newsom’s decision, it will be interesting to see what the NCAA’s NIL working group proposes. The working group is expected to share its findings and decision soon.

California Senate Bill 206 Fair Pay to Play Act Would be a Major Benefit to Impoverished Athletes

California Senate Bill 206 Fair Play Act NCAA Athletes

California is currently the hotbed for the pay-for-play debate in college sports. This is due to the Fair Pay to Play Act that is currently before the California state legislature. Two California state senators have taken action against the injustices that plague the current college sports system. Those senators are Nancy Skinner and Steven Bradford. Senators Skinner and Bradford introduced the Fair Pay to Play Act in hopes of creating a more equitable system for college athletes and particular NCAA athletes in California. The bill seeks to give those college athletes the ability to profit from the commercial use of their name, image, and likeness (NIL). The athletes would also be able to sign with agents. The Fair Pay to Play Act has the potential to completely change the landscape of college athletics and the NCAA.

The Current Landscape of College Athletics

Currently, college athletes are not permitted to profit from their NIL for athletically related activities. Despite the NCAA’s best efforts to steer everyone away from this fact, college sports are a billion-dollar industry. Everyone gets rich except the players. Conferences and college sports officials garner billion-dollar television broadcasting deals. Coaches, athletic directors, and conference commissioners negotiate million-dollar salaries. Meanwhile, the athletes are limited to a cost-of-attendance scholarship and are prohibited from profiting from their name, image, and likeness. If an athlete seeks to make such a profit, the athlete will be deemed ineligible for competition by the NCAA. How is this fair? The answer is that it is not fair. The Fair Pay to Play Act seeks to remedy that injustice.

On Monday, the California State Assembly unanimously passed the bill 72-0. The bill will now go back to the State Senate for another vote. The bill was amended after it was originally passed in the State Senate. If the bill is passed again in the State Senate, it will go to Governor Gavin Newsome’s desk.

Governor Newsome should sign the bill into law because the Fair Pay to Play Act has the ability to create a more equitable system for college athletes in California. If signed into law, the bill will greatly benefit all college athletes attending school in California. However, the bill could have a profound effect on black college athletes; particularly those who come from disadvantaged backgrounds. The Fair Pay to Play Act could create an entirely new revenue stream for such athletes by allowing them to acquire a better quality of life not dependent on making it in professional sports.

The Make-up of the Labor Force that Drives the Billion-Dollar Industry

The two sports that generate the bulk of the revenue in college athletics are Division I Football and Division I Men’s basketball. An overwhelming majority of the athletes participating in those sports are African American. In 2018, roughly 48 percent of Division I football players were African American. In 2018, roughly 56 percent of Division I Men’s basketball players were African-American. Even in Division I Women’s basketball, 47 percent of the participants were African-American. Many of these players come from disadvantaged backgrounds and some live in poverty.

Roughly 86 percent of African-American college athletes come from families that live below the poverty line. Generally, many college athletes live at or below the federal poverty line. The National College Players Association conducted a study that compared the room and board portion of each school’s full athletic scholarship to the 2011 federal poverty line.  The study found that 85 percent of on-campus athletes and 86 percent of off-campus athletes lived below the federal poverty line. It is true that college athletes are now given cost-of-attendance stipends. However, in many cases, the cost-of-attendance stipend is not enough for athletes to take care of themselves and their families.

The Cost-of-Attendance Stipend is Simply not Enough

In January 2015, the Power 5 conferences voted to allow college athletes to receive cost-of-attendance stipends. Each school calculates the amount of their cost-of-attendance stipend by considering variables like transportation, tuition and fees, books, and personal expenses. Many college athletes use these stipends to support themselves and their families. For example, Deion Hair-Griffin played receiver for North Texas. He received approximately $3,136 as his cost-of-attendance stipend, which he used to help his mother. His mother sacrificed her food and struggled to pay bills so that her son could play football. Once Deion received the stipend he was able to alleviate some of his mother’s financial stress.

Similarly, Van Smith who played football at Clemson used part of his $388 monthly stipend to cover part of his younger brother’s high school football expenses. Myles Gaskins, who played football for the University of Washington, argued that the stipends are still not enough. Gaskins pointed out that the stipend amount would lead athletes to live below the poverty line due to the high rent cost in Seattle. The stipends have been beneficial to college athletes. However, it is still not enough. This is especially true for college athletes who come from poverty. The implementation of the Fair Pay to Play Act and cost-of-attendance stipends will vastly improve the lives of impoverished college athletes in California.

While the Benefit may not be the Same for all Athletes, all Athletes Stand to Benefit

Opponents of the Fair Pay to Play Act argue that the outcome of the bill will not be successful because it will not benefit all athletes. They argue that the bill will only prove beneficial to the highly sought after elite athletes. However, it is very likely that lower-profile athletes will benefit from this bill as well. Simply having the opportunity to garner an endorsement deal is a benefit. This benefit can go a long way for athletes who come from poverty. Let’s consider the perspective of two former college athletes on the issue of how beneficial the Fair Pay to Play Act will be to college athletes.

Former College Athletes Perspective on the Fair Pay to Play Act

Greg Camarillo is a former Stanford University football player who supports the bill. Mr. Camarillo stated that he is not sure that the bill would have benefited him because he was not a high profile athlete in college. However, he acknowledged the possibility of local businesses giving lower-profile athletes endorsement deals. Mr. Camarillo stated that in his view endorsements are the most realistic way for college athletes to receive payment because most schools cannot afford to pay athletes. He also stated that colleges should not have the power to take away college athletes’ ability to profit from their name, image, and likeness.

Travis Johnson is a California native and former Florida State football player. He believes that finding a way to pay college athletes is long overdue. Mr. Johnson recalled instances where athletes did not have enough money to buy groceries or to travel home for the holidays. He acknowledged that an extra $1,000 per month would go a long way. Mr. Johnson suggested that when a company is interested in endorsing the star linebacker, the company offer some type of deal to each player on the line. That way, even the lower-profile players will have an opportunity to benefit from the Fair Pay to Play Act. This bill could lead to the creation of such a system.

With the Fair Pay to Play Act, College Athletes will not Feel so Pressured to Turn Pro and Degree Completion will Likely Increase

Many college athletes leave school early for the pros because they are desperate to change their social-economic status. While some may wish to remain in college, they feel that they cannot afford to. The Fair Pay to Play Act has the ability to alleviate that stress by creating an avenue for college athletes to garner extra income. Furthermore, the Fair Pay to Play Act will provide financial opportunities for athletes who do not make it to the pros.

Approximately 4 percent of college basketball players were selected in the 2018 NBA draft and approximately 4 percent of college football were selected in the 2018 NFL draft. This means that only a small fraction of college athletes are given the opportunity to receive the true value of their athletic worth. Due to the NCAA’s rules, most college athletes miss their opportunity to take advantage of their skills when they are the most marketable. This simply is not right. The Fair Pay to Play Act can change this by giving all college athletes the ability to profit from their athletic abilities during their prime years in college. 

Opening the door for college athletes to sign endorsement deals, receive compensation from jersey sales and signed memorabilia, and to receive guidance from an agent while in college would dramatically improve the lives of college athletes, especially those who come from poverty. It would essentially create an avenue where college athletes can use their athleticism to build wealth while pursuing their education. Thus, equipping impoverished college athletes with the two most pertinent things needed to get out poverty – money, and education.  Therefore, the Fair Pay to Play Act should be signed into law if and when it reaches Governor Newsome’s desk.

Alston v. NCAA: Judge Rules for Plaintiffs But NCAA Keeps Amateurism

Alston v.NCAA ruling on student athletes educational benefits

On March 8, 2019, amid the March Madness excitement, the highly anticipated ruling in the Alston v. NCAA case was released. In what appeared to be a victory for the plaintiffs, the NCAA still managed to come out essentially unscathed. Judgment was entered in favor of the plaintiffs. However, the NCAA was, unfortunately, able to retain a substantial amount of discretion over student-athlete compensation. Even though the plaintiffs won, the NCAA did not exactly lose.

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In the 104 page ruling, the court willingly acknowledged the disparity between what student-athletes receive in comparison to what coaches, the NCAA, and other college sports administration officials receive. However, that acknowledgment was not enough to make the court fully strip or severely limit the NCAA’s authority over student-athlete compensation that is unrelated to education. Thus, proving the courts’ and the general public’s inclination to refuse to acknowledge that there really is nothing “amateur” about college sports.

Alston v. NCAA Summary

Last fall, Judge Claudia Wilken presided over the Alston v. NCAA case. Judge Wilken also presided over the Obannon v. NCAA trial. In Alston, the plaintiffs included several current and former student-athletes. The defendants included the NCAA and eleven of its conferences that participate in FBS Football and Division I Basketball.

The plaintiffs challenged the legality of the NCAA and its’ member institutions practice of capping grants-in-aid at the cost-of-attendance based on federal antitrust laws. Contrarily, the defendants contended that the rules were necessary because they served several procompetitive purposes permissible under federal antitrust laws. However, only two procompetitive purposes were discussed at trial.

The Procompetitive Purposes Discussed at Trial

The first procompetitive purpose discussed at trial was that the rules were necessary to protect and promote amateurism and retain consumer interest in college athletics. Specifically, defendants argued that fans only engage in college sports because it is distinct from professional sports and that distinction is predicated on the fact that college athletes do not receive payment.

The second procompetitive purpose discussed at trial was that the rules were necessary to promote student-athlete integration into the greater college campus. Specifically, defendants argued that if student-athletes were paid above a cost-of-attendance scholarship other students would essentially become jealous and harbor resentment. The plaintiffs offered three alternatives to the current system. The court accepted a modified version of one of them.

The Alston Ruling

Judge Wilken ruled that the NCAA can no longer “limit compensation benefits related to education.” The ruling also mandated that the NCAA allow conferences to create their own rules and policies for scholarships. Essentially, the ruling will allow student-athletes to potentially receive a scholarship valued at greater than a “full ride” to college.

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Additionally, the NCAA will not be allowed to limit benefits related to education that is not included in the cost-of-attendance. Those benefits include items such as computers and musical instruments. In sum, the NCAA is no longer allowed to limit education-related benefits for student-athletes. This part of the ruling is essentially a win for the Plaintiffs. However, the ruling is not a total loss for the NCAA.

The Small, Yet Major Victory for the NCAA

The court found value in the defendants’ argument that the rules were necessary to serve the procompetitive purpose of keeping college sports distinct from professional sports. The defendants did not provide a clear definition of amateurism. However, the court reasoned that the distinction lied in the fact that college athletes are not paid unlimited sums unrelated to education.

With that, the court allowed the NCAA to maintain its ability to limit non-education related benefits for student-athletes. The NCAA is even permitted to define what “related to education” means. Thus, giving undue value to the NCAA’s farce of amateurism and the mythical distinction between college and professional sports.


Why do People Ignore the Other Similarities Between College and Professional Sports?

In response to the Alston ruling, the NCAA’s chief legal officer Donald Remy released a statement. Mr. Remy stated, “the decision acknowledges that the popularity of college sports stems in part from the fact that these athletes are indeed students who must not be paid unlimited cash sums unrelated to education.” This statement re-enforces the NCAA’s argument that rules limiting payment to college athletes are necessary to serve the procompetitive purpose of keeping college sports distinct from professional sports. However, is college sports really distinct from professional sports?

College Sports is not Very Distinct from Professional Sports

Aside from college athletes not being paid like professional athletes, there is no real distinction. For example, Division I college football and basketball garner very similar media deals that professional football and basketball garner. The March Madness tournament generates a billion dollars in revenue for the NCAA. Likewise, the NBA playoffs and Finals generates billions of dollars for the NBA. College football generates billions of dollars for the schools and the conferences. Professional football generates billions of dollars for the NFL and team owners. The coaches make millions in college sports, just as the coaches make millions in professional sports.

Given all of those similarities between college and professional sports, how can anyone claim that Division I college sports are largely distinct from professional sports? Why is payment unrelated to education the crux of the distinction between college and professional sports? Division I college sports resembles professional sports in almost every other way. However, the NCAA is still allowed to claim a distinction based on lack of payment to the athletes who propel the industry. Why are the courts and the public so willing to ignore the other similarities and give deference to a distinction that is largely predicated only on lack of payment?

NCAA Changes Agent Rule Hours After Rich Paul’s Op-Ed was Released (UPDATE)

Rich Paul Rule Overturned NCAA Agent Rule

If anyone ever doubted the influence of LeBron James and his team, that doubt should be put to rest. Yesterday the NCAA announced that they were removing the controversial bachelor’s degree requirement from their agent certification requirements. This announcement came just hours after Rich Paul, LeBron James’ longtime friend and agent, released an op-Ed in the Athletic criticizing the bachelor’s degree requirement. If that is not a demonstration of insurmountable influence, then what is? 

The NCAA’s Agent Certification Process did not Last a Week Before it saw Sweeping Change

Last week, the NCAA revealed their new agent certification process. The certification process is for agents who wish to represent college basketball players looking to test the NBA Draft waters while maintaining collegiate eligibility. When the NCAA revealed that completion of a bachelor’s degree was one of the requirements, the sports world went into a criticizing frenzy. King James led the charge, dubbing the rule the “Rich Paul” rule, as he saw it as a snub at the success of Paul. 

Rich Paul has Evolved into a Super Agent

Paul has experienced unprecedented success as an NBA agent. Moreover, he disrupted college basketball when he represented Darius Bazley. Bazley was a top high school basketball recruit. However, he opted out of playing for Syracuse to workout on his own. During this time he interned for New Balance. As a part of the internship, Paul helped Bazely receive $1 million guaranteed and a shoe deal. Bazley has the potential to earn up to $14 million on the deal and was drafted in the first round of the 2019 NBA draft.

Bazley’s New Balance deal speaks to Paul’s abilities. More impressive is that Paul has done all of this without a bachelor’s degree. The NCAA’s initial rule was seen as a slight at the success of Paul. It was also viewed as yet another barrier to future agents like Rich Paul, limiting abilities to break into the sports agent business.

With Pressure from James, Paul, and Others in the Sports Industry the NCAA had no Choice but Give In

Many in the sports industry called the rule out for what it was. It was an attempt to keep those at the top of the sports industry in power. There would be no real challenges to the power structure. The Rich Paul rule would have disproportionately negatively affected minorities and those from low socioeconomic backgrounds. 

As Paul mentioned in his op-Ed, the rule as it was would have ultimately prohibited those who do not have the resources, opportunity, or desire to get a four-year degree from entering the agent business. From all of the criticism and pressure, the NCAA was forced to get rid of the bachelor’s degree requirement.

If this is not a testament to LeBron James’ and Rich Paul’s influence, the what is? 

The NCAA’s New Agent Rule is About Maintaining​ Control

NCAA Rich Paul Agent Rule

The NCAA sent the sports world into a frenzy when they announced their new certification process for sports agents who wish to represent college basketball players. The new rule comes as a part of the recommendations made by the Commission on College Basketball (Commission) last April. After the 2017 college hoops scandal led to an FBI investigation and criminal trial, the NCAA created the Commission to help resolve the problems in college basketball. One of the Commission’s recommendations was that the NCAA allow some college basketball players to enlist the guidance of agents. Accordingly, the NCAA released the process for an agent to become NCAA-certified.

To become an NCAA-certified agent, one must have a bachelors degree, be NBPA certified for at least three consecutive years and in good standing, maintain liability insurance, and submit an application by the appropriate deadline. The requirement that agents have a bachelors degree did not sit well with many in the sports industry. The bachelor degree requirement received instant criticism. LeBron James was at the forefront of the criticism as he viewed the rule as a snub at the success of his friend and agent, Rich Paul. He even dubbed the rule the “Rich Paul Rule.”

Why Would LeBron James Think That the Rule is a Snub at Rich Paul?

Rich Paul is a close friend of LeBron James who later became his agent. Paul does not have a bachelors degree but has been ultra-successful as a basketball agent. He learned the agent business through practical real-world experience. Paul then became an NBPA certified agent and created Klutch Sports. In addition to LeBron James, Paul represents Anthony Davis, Ben Simmons, and a host of other top NBA talent. Given Paul’s client roster it is clear that he has totally disrupted the basketball agent industry. He has become an NBA agent powerhouse. Not only has Paul and Klutch Sports disrupted NBA basketball, but he also ruffled some feathers in college basketball.

Darius Bazley was a top high school basketball prospect who was committed to playing at Syracuse. Bazley ultimately changed his mind and opted not to attend Syracuse and to forego his college eligibility. Instead, Bazely worked out on his own to prepare for the NBA draft. With the help of Rich Paul, Bazley landed an internship with New Balance. Paul helped Bazley garner an internship deal where Bazely received a shoe deal and a guaranteed $1 million.

Once Bazley decided not to attend college many wondered if he would be drafted into the NBA. In June that question was answered when Bazely was drafted in the first round at number 23 by the Oklahoma City Thunder. Paul and Bazley raised a lot of eyebrows with their unconventional newly charted path to the NBA. Given the disruption that Rich Paul has caused in both professional and college basketball, it is very clear why King James thinks the NCAA’s new agent rule is targeting Rich Paul.

Is it Simply Targeting Rich Paul or is the NCAA Seeking to Prevent a Broader Phenomenon?

Changes in College Athletics

Sports fans will never know for sure if the NCAA created the agent certification guidelines with Rich Paul in mind. However, what is known is that change is afoot in college athletics and in professional basketball. One thing that is for sure is that the NCAA and others at the top of the sports industry are threatened by innovators and disruptors like Rich Paul. They have much to gain by ensuring there is a system in place to make it more difficult for future Rich Pauls.

In college athletics, the NCAA’s model is being attacked on all fronts. The NCAA is defending the farce of amateurism in court. Recently, the NCAA was forced to create a working group to address the various federal and state-level bills. The bills seek to allow college athletes to profit from their name, image, and likeness. With the many challenges to the current college sports landscape, the NCAA is willing to do whatever it takes to retain control. Requiring a bachelors degree is one way that the NCAA seeks to accomplish that goal.

Having a College Degree Does not Automatically Equal Quality Representation

Yes, it is true that requiring agents to have a bachelor’s degree is a move to safeguard the players. However, simply having a degree does not automatically make a person qualified to negotiate a sports contract. Nor does it automatically mean that the person will not take advantage of the athlete. Furthermore, classroom education does not beat out real-world experience. Hence, the reason entry-level and recent graduate job postings still ask for one to two years of experience. One thing the bachelor’s degree requirement does is make sure others like Rich Paul have another hurdle to cross.

Lack of a college degree does not automatically equal sub-par representation. The clearest example of that is Rich Paul. Furthermore, the degree requirement could automatically preclude those closest to the athletes and with the athletes’ best interest at heart from representing them. Is that in the athletes’ best interest in all cases? The NCAA should have an option where a certain amount of experience takes the place of the degree requirement just as the NBPA does.

Certainly Benefits Those Already at the Top of the Agent Industry

Paul’s willingness to help athletes go after their goals in their own way has made him attractive to other players. This phenomenon has lead to some disruptions in professional basketball player representation. The most telling example of this is Anthony Davis and his attempt to force his way to the Lakers this past season. Other agents are threatened by Rich Paul. Creating a rule that requires a bachelors degree is a way to make sure disruptors like Rich Paul have a harder time getting started in the business.

The bachelor’s degree requirement puts Rich Paul and similarly situated agents behind because it precludes them from building relationships with college basketball players. While requiring a bachelors degree can help safeguard college basketball players, it is not foolproof. For that reason, it is likely that the rule may have been more about the NCAA and other top sports industry leaders retaining their power than protecting the athletes.

What is the New NCAA Independent Investigation Unit

NCAA Announces New Independent Investigation Unit

The NCAA has formed an independent investigation unit to oversee “complex cases.” Only a school representative, NCAA enforcement staff, or member of the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions can bring a case under the new investigation process. What is the unit’s purpose and how does it plan to effect change?

The Independent Accountability Resolution Process

The unit is broken up into four committees:

Independent Accountability Oversight Committee: oversees the entire investigation process, appoints members to the other three committees, and develops policies and procedures to ensure fairness and impartiality. 

Infractions Referral Committee: reviews and confirms requests for complex cases.

NCAA investigation unit
Credit: NCAA

Complex Case Unit: carries out factual investigations regarding approved complex cases and guides the case through the review process. The Complex Case Unit is made of independent investigators and advocates with no school or conference affiliations and various NCAA enforcement staff.

Independent Resolutions Panel: reviews Complex Case Unit findings and the school’s response, oversees case hearings, and determines penalties. This group consists of fifteen members with legal, higher education, and/or sports backgrounds, and who have no affiliation with any NCAA school or conference. A rotating panel of five members hears each case. All decisions are final and not subject to appeal.

Should We Trust the Process?

The Independent Accountability Resolution Process (IARP) was created upon the recommendation of the Condeleeza Rice Commission to fix college basketball. Its main purpose is to defeat perceived conflicts of interest. However, the IAOC is made entirely of NCAA officials who determine the other members of the unit. Furthermore, the NCAA decides what qualifies as a complex case. If the NCAA truly wanted to promote independence, it would have been better served outsourcing the entire process instead of tethering it to its brand.

The IARP also fails to include methods to protect student-athletes. Noticeably, student-athletes have no right to request a hearing. There’s no mention of how mitigating factors or the effects of institutional control may affect an investigation. It appears the “why” and “how” of a situation is irrelevant in analyzing a case. Strict decision-making may be effective to govern administrations, but a number of variables come in to play when teenagers are involved. The IARP fails to take such factors into consideration. 

The IARP is The Same As Current NCAA Policy

The NCAA already has the NCAA Infractions Program. The NIP was designed to “uphold integrity and fair play among the NCAA membership, and to prescribe appropriate and fair penalties if violations occur.” Like the IARP, the Infractions Program requires decisions to be made by a panel of independent arbiters. Specifically, Section 19.3.4 of the NCAA Division I Manual states:

No member of a hearing panel shall participate in a case if he or she is directly connected with an institution under investigation or if he or she has a personal, professional or institutional affiliation that may create the appearance of partiality. It is the responsibility of the panel member to remove himself or herself if a conflict exists. Objections to the participation of a panel member in a particular case should be raised as soon as recognized but will not be considered unless raised at least one week in advance of the panel’s review of the case. Objections will be decided by the committee chair.

One of the unit’s first cases may be the investigation of corruption in college basketball. But it’s odd that the NCAA would create a new committee just for this purpose. What more is there to learn from this subject outside what the federal cases already provided? 

The NCAA Independent Investigation Unit is the latest in a string of new committees put in place to advance the administration. In May, the NCAA formed the NCAA Board of Governors Federal and State Legislation Working Group. The purpose was to analyze proposed federal and state legislation focused on student-athletes receiving benefits based on the use of their name, image, and likeness. The thought was this group would bring the NCAA into the 21st century. Instead, the NCAA has spent the past months challenging California legislation and threatening schools.

Will the NCAA Independent Investigation Unit Work?

Until more transparency is provided, the IARP appears simply another measure meant to provide hope that will ultimately fail to make a significant impact on the landscape of college sports.

Follow Alan Wilmot on Twitter and Instagram.

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4 Reasons Fans Should Read Senator Murphy’s Reports on the College Sports Industry

Senator Chris Murphy College Athletics Report

The start of the college football season is rapidly approaching. College sports fans are eager to cheer for their favorite teams in hopes that their team will qualify for a bowl game or make it to the College Football Playoffs. In the midst of the excitement of the upcoming football season, is the debate of whether college athletes should be further compensated. United States Senator Chris Murphy, of Connecticut, has authored two reports highlighting the injustices of the college athletics system. In the reports, Senator Murphy acknowledges the injustices of the college sports system as the rights issue that it is.

The current college sports system no doubt needs restructuring. The numerous academic fraud scandals and the NCAA rule violation scandals have made it immensely clear that the current system is flawed. Perhaps the most telling example of the need for change is the college basketball scandal that resulted in an FBI investigation and a criminal trial.

Change is Coming to College Athletics

Several state and federal legislators have introduced bills aiming to compensate college athletes in some way. One bill that is making serious headway is a bill in California entitled the Fair Pay to Play Act. The bill seeks to give college athletes in California the ability to profit from their name, image, and likeness by enabling them to garner endorsements. One may wonder why the issue of compensating college athletes is getting the attention of so many lawmakers. The issue is getting that attention because the issue of fairly compensating college athletes is a civil rights issue.

College athletes are being exploited. Everyone involved in big-time college athletics is getting rich except the athletes. Yes, college athletes receive an invaluable scholarship in return for their academic services. However, not all college athletes are able to get the most out of their academic opportunity. Many leave school without a degree and without an opportunity to complete their degree in the future. Many who do graduate, do not receive a degree in a worthwhile major.

Senator Chris Murphy Report

Senator Murphy released his first report entitled Madness Inc., How Everyone is Getting Rich off College Sports – Except the Players in March of 2019. He was prompted to write the report after he witnessed the unfortunate knee sprain injury Zion Williamson suffered when his Nike shoe fell apart during the Duke v. UNC game in February. Senator Murphy stated that Williamon’s injury for him “was the starkest example of a kid making lots of adults super-rich, who almost had his career ended without making a single dime.”

Late July, Senator Murphy released his second report. The report is entitled, Madness Inc. How Colleges Keep Athletes on the Field and out of the Classroom. The second report highlighted the reality of the “world-class education” that college athletes are supposed to receive in return for their athletic services. Both of Senator Murphy’s reports show that college athletes are not getting as good of a bargain as many may think. For that reason, every college sports fan should read Senator Murphy’s reports. Here are four takeaways from the reports that all college sports fans should know.

1. Proportionally Coaches Receive More of the Revenue than the Athletes

The first report highlights the stark imbalance between the revenue that college athletes generate and the amount of money that is actually filtered back down to them. The annual amount spent on student aid is $936 million, while $1.2 billion is spent on coaches salaries. There are 45,000 college athletes in schools that make up the Power 5 conferences and only 4,400 coaches. There are 65 Power 5 conference programs. Only 12 percent of all revenue goes to student-athlete scholarships, while 16 percent goes towards coaches salaries. In effect, the coaches receive more of the revenue than the athletes. This is not to say that coaches do not deserve to be compensated for their work, because they do. However, should they be compensated in greater proportion to the college athletes?

2. Spending on Lavish Facilities is out of Control and Provides no Long Term Benefit to the Athletes

Many schools have invested in overly extravagant and lavish facilities for their athletic programs. The report highlights the facilities at Clemson University (Clemson) and the University of South Carolina (South Carolina). Clemson built a $55 million facility that boasts a miniature golf course, movie theater, and bowling lanes. South Carolina’s facility has a video arcade and a sound studio for athletes to record their music. The most recent example of an overly lavish facility can be seen at Louisiana State University (LSU). LSU recently unveiled the $28 million renovations they made to their football operations building.

From the above picture and the aforementioned amenities, it is clear that spending on facilities has gotten out of control. How does a $55 million dollar building make an athlete better at their sport or in the classroom? Perhaps the athletes enjoy the facility a little while they are in college (if their strict schedules allow). However, there is no discernible long term benefit access to such facilities provides to the athletes once they leave college and begin their careers.

3. College Athletes are not Getting the Valuable Education that Everyone Thinks They are Getting

While many college athletes do receive a quality education, some do not. Many college athletes are not receiving the academic advantages that the general public is led to believe they are. Senator Murphy’s second report highlighted the story of Stephen Cline a former defensive lineman for Kansas State University. Cline wished to become a veterinarian but was forced into a less demanding major so that he could focus on football. The NCAA sells education as the bargain that college athletes get in exchange for their athletics services. However, many do not get it.

So many athletes are like Cline and are not encouraged to major in the subject of their true interest so that they may focus on their sport. Not everyone truly cares about the value of the education athletes receive. This was made abundantly clear when the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (UNC) sham course scandal was exposed. The NCAA chose not to sanction UNC, thereby showing their true commitment to ensuring each college athlete receives a world-class education.

4. When Examined Closely, it is Clear that College Athletes act as Full-Time Employees

The daily life of a college athlete is more akin to that of a full-time employee than a full-time student. Many college athletes are up at 5:00 am to report to 6:00 am practice, then to breakfast, then to class, then to another class. Before the athlete realizes it, it is time for a team meeting – another athletic-related activity. Hopefully, the athlete has some time to squeeze a shower and get some lunch in between. College athletes no doubt keep a rigorous schedule. 

Senator Murphy’s report highlighted a study conducted by the PAC 12 conference in 2015. The study found that college athletes averaged more than 50 hours per week on athletic-related activities. The report also highlighted the Northwestern University football team’s hearing with the National Labor Relations Board. During the hearing, the athletes revealed that they spent upwards of 60 hours a week on football-related activities. College athletes fulfill all of these obligations before they have had any time to think about their coursework. 

In order to be a full-time student, college athletes must be enrolled for at least 12 credit hours per semester. For each credit hour, students are expected to spend two to three hours outside of class studying. This means that students are expected to spend between 36-48 hours per week studying. How is a college athlete supposed to spend 48 hours per week studying and roughly 40 hours per week on athletics and be successful at both? 

Senator Chris Murphy’s Report Emphasizes that Fairly Compensating College Athletes is a Civil Rights Issue

As the college football season begins, college sports fans should take some time to read Senator Chris Murphy’s reports. Upon reading the reports,  they will better understand why there has been a surge in state and federal legislative involvement in ensuring equitable compensation for college athletes. Fans will realize that the debate is not just about money. It is about the restoration of civil rights to college athletes. Everyone should be able to profit from their own name, image, and likeness. College athletes generate billions of dollars each year for the NCAA, their school, and their conferences. College athletes should have a more equitable piece of that pie.