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Associate Sports Editor Huntyr Schwegman argues that the NCAA needs to side with California Gov. Gavin Newsom and allow players to be compensated for the use of their name, likeness and image.

Column

In the midst of an FBI investigation into college basketball, in which at least 20 programs were mentioned, the NCAA is searching for evidence of schools and sponsor companies paying recruits to come to their school.

The solution: Let student-athletes get paid.

The NCAA was formed in 1906 with a focus on conserving education as well as amateurism in athletics. In 1973, the NCAA revised the scholarship system, implementing the one-year scholarship which replaced the four-year scholarship, as well as continued to emphasize amateurism within college athletics.

Universities and athletic programs that offer more to recruits than a scholarship are in violation of NCAA rules and can be stripped of their ability to award scholarships, or they can even be shut down for a period of time. Countless institutions, including the University of Kansas, have been investigated for violating these recruiting rules over the years.

Well, things might be about to change.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the Fair Pay to Play act Monday. This bill would stop California universities from prohibiting student-athletes from being paid for the use of their name, likeness and image. The bill will go into effect in 2023. 

The NCAA has already threatened to bar California schools from NCAA competitions, bowl games and March Madness if they were to allow student-athletes to profit from their play while in school. Los Angeles Times editorial writer Scott Martelle fired back at the NCAA for the threats, calling it exploitation.

Universities and athletic departments have long been profiting from student-athletes and the work they put into their sports. Kansas Athletics Inc. alone brought in over $104 million during fiscal year 2018, and spent a little over 14% on grants-in-aid, or athletic scholarships.

The Green Bay Packers, the only North American professional sports team that releases its financial information, brought in a total revenue of $477.9 million in fiscal year 2019, and spent just over a third on player contracts.

With its six men’s sports and eight women’s sports, Kansas can offer up to 255.1 scholarships per year, 113 going to women and 142.1 to men. 

My solution? Let the players make all the money they want while they’re in college. All of their peers in non-academic fields have few restrictions on how they can earn money from their skills.

If the NCAA wants to keep the integrity of amateurism, restrict this income to a trust fund or savings account. Most of an athlete’s needs during school are met through their scholarships, which cover housing and meals. Investing the revenue they create in a student athlete’s future would help set them up for a successful future in any path of life they choose.

The path following the Fair Pay to Play act is unclear, but what is clear is that student-athletes help generate millions of dollars each year and are unable to claim any of it for themselves. This needs to change, and the NCAA should listen to Newsom.