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NCAA votes to allow player compensation: Read the fine print

Photo Credit: Maridav

A lot has been happening across the country lately. Wildfires in California, The World Series (Congratulations, Nationals!). Oh, yeah, that impeachment thing as well.

And on Tuesday the NCAA responded swiftly to a recent law passed by the state of California that permits student-athletes to be compensated for their likenesses and image. The NCAA voted in favor of such measure. It was a unanimous vote as well.

The news was quickly gobbled up in the news world and moved as quickly down the totem pole – which is quite possibly exactly what the NCAA was aiming for.

OK, the vote was indeed a positive move for “student-athletes” for fair compensation in regards to his or her value to their respective institution. But sometimes it’s important to read a bit further, a bit deeper, “the fine print,” if you will.

In this decision the NCAA made interpreting the press release about as difficult as even the most ardent Virginia basketball fan understanding Tony Bennett’s famous pack line defense.

So, here is the opening paragraph in Tuesday’s new release: “The NCAA’s top governing board 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.”

Let’s dissect that paragraph a moment, because I think there is a bunch of NCAA “double-speak” which the 9 million page NCAA manual is full of.

“Benefit” jumps off the page first. This is the NCAA’s go-to word, kind of a collect-all term that shows up about 100 million times in the manual. Extra-benefit is an actual phrase that’s used more than a rented mule in the manual.

So, the statement chooses to use the term ‘benefit” instead of … maybe “profit”?  I think using the word “benefit” gives the almighty wizard (NCAA) plenty of gray area they are all too familiar with.

“Opportunity” is a unique choice of words as well. You have to give the stuffed-shirts at the NCAA headquarters a bunch of credit – they sure know how to still maintain full control over the “student-athletes.” “Opportunity” sounds like it’s an honor for the player to actually make a bit of spare change during their playing career – while their coaches are free to change schools on a dime to make an extra couple of million dollars.

Here’s the part that I find the most amusing. “Manner consistent with the collegiate model.” What model? The model that most everyone that follows college sports considers broke at best, crooked more likely, that model?

The model where some high-profile schools create fake classes, fake professors and yet somehow avoid even a “wrist slapping “by the NCAA. That model?

The current model does not allow such profiting by “student-athletes.” The current model penalizes that notion. More like unpaid workers, while non-athletes are permitted and encouraged to seek odd jobs to put a few extra bucks in their wallets.

Because remember, the NCAA, made up of member institutions deemed that an athlete on a full scholarship was more than adequately compensated.

So, my take is simple. The NCAA clearly read the tea leaves after the California vote in late September, they know the dam has sprung some holes. They also know a favorable vote for compensation is a stop-gap measure to prevent a full flood. A flood that just might wash-away the NCAA.

Column by Scott German

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