NCAA president Mark Emmert said that the organization dedicated to collegiate sports will not stray from its long-standing tenet of not directly paying college sports players.
"It’s grossly unacceptable and inappropriate to pay players … converting them from students to employees," Mark Emmert tells USA Today.
But Emmert also acknowledges that it might be time for the organization to spread some of the revenue it generates from licensing around to players in one way or another. While he is not making any promises, Emmert thinks it would be acceptable to compensate players in other ways such as increasing the amount of money paid towards scholarships and other college expenses.
“I will make clear,” he says, “that I want this to be a subject we explore.”
Emmert says that he will tackle the topic at the NCAA’s board meetings in April.
But Emmert talks as if he has a choice. Either the NCAA figures it out on its own or players - current and former - may get the answers they want through litigation.
According to a USA Today report syndicated through the Tucson Citizen, the NCAA generates approximately $771 million a year in television licensing rights alone. This excludes video games, apparel and more.
Many others see inequality when it comes to the way the NCAA uses college athletes to make millions of dollars. North Carolina Hall of Fame basketball coach Roy Williams wonders aloud why athletic scholarships do not measure up to top academic awards, such as UNC’s Morehead-Cain scholarship. That academic award pays for travel, computers and other important extras. He would like to see the NCAA give a little bit more back to players.
"..those kids are saying, ‘Look at all this money we’re bringing in. And I have to beg, borrow and steal to get an extra meal?," says Williams.
Former NCAA head Cedric Dempsey agrees:
"It puts intercollegiate athletics in a precarious position," says former NCAA executive director Cedric Dempsey. "When you see the money and the kind of salaries you see now and the only group in the system that hasn’t received any additional funding is at the student-athlete level."
You can read a more detailed report of the pros and cons of compensating NCAA players here. It is an interesting discussion and one that all involved agree needs to be addressed.
On a related note, HBO's Real sports will explore the topic at length tonight in prime time special.