The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) consists of 1,268 colleges and universities around the nation ranging from Division I to Division III and home to around 460,000 student-athletes. One of the biggest money-makers for them is Division I basketball which made over $1 billion in the 2019 season alone.
Founded in the spring of 1906, the NCAA has always disciplined student-athletes who have profited on their image and likeness despite how popular the athlete is. For years, media, coaches, players, and fans have wondered why student-athletes aren’t getting paid.
The NCAA image and likeness rule states, “In general, to maintain NCAA eligibility, Division I student-athletes may not promote or endorse a commercial product or service, even if they are not paid to participate in the activity.Athletes may use their image to continue participating in nonathletically related promotional activities if they were initiated before college enrollment.”
In 2019, The NCAA made roughly over 1 billion dollars in total revenue. This includes ticket sales, television deals, and merchandise. No athletes saw any part of that money. Even though the athletes are receiving full athletic scholarships to attend the university, some of these athletes are pulling in millions of dollars for these schools.
The multi-billion-dollar non for profit organization of the NCAA has been profiting off of superstars for years. An estimate from the professor of economics at Southern Utah University, David Berri stated that big names in college hoops from the 2019 season like Zion Williamson, Juwann Morgan, and Tyler Herro would have made well over a million each.
Later in the study, Berri included the historic team of the 2019 Duke Blue Devils Men’s Basketball Team who recruited 4 of the 5 top recruits of the 2018 graduating class. The Blue Devils went 25-6 and Berri estimated that each member would receive a minimum of $18.6 million for their successful season.
Fortunately, in September of 2019, the state of California was the first state to pass the law to pay student-athletes through third-party companies such as shoe companies and commercials. The other 48 states with major Division I programs (Alaska has no Division I programs.) This is just the first step to paying these student-athletes. A step that should have been taken years ago.