On Wednesday, Gonzaga’s basketball head coach Mark Few argued before a United States Senate hearing for college athlete compensation in support of Name, Image and Likeness Rights for college athletes.
Few and National Collegiate Athletic Association President Mark Emmert testified in a hearing convened by Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., who chairs the Senate Commerce Committee.
The hearing, which is called NCAA Athletic NIL Rights, addresses federal legislative proposals that would allow college athletes to monetize their popularity. With this, players would be able to earn money through endorsements, merchandise, sales advertisements on their social media accounts and more.
“We are at a critical juncture in college athletics, and it really isn’t an exaggeration to say the future of college sports is in jeopardy,” Few told the committee. “We absolutely should have addressed these NIL rights a long time ago, and I’m embarrassed that we’re here having to deal with it right now.”
During his testimony, Few made his perspective clear. “These changes are long, long overdue. All athletes deserve to use their own name, image and likeness in commercial endorsements and on social media, and I am very much in favor of them profiting as much as they possibly can from this.”
The debate over whether college athletes can use their name for endorsements and profit has been a hot topic for several years now.
While opponents of the argument state that college stars receive free college tuition, stipends and a platform to showcase their skills for professional teams, supporters of paying college athletes state that these players are the reason the Association is racking in more than $14 billion a year, and none of them are getting awarded for it.
The issue becomes more profound when you realize how much these student-athletes could be making. A new study from the National Bureau of Economic Research looks to get to the bottom of just how much money the top college football and basketball stars would be making per season if they were compensated similarly to professional players.
The study found that every starting player on a basketball team for schools in the five biggest collegiate athletic conferences (the ACC, the Big 10, the Big 12, the PAC-12 and the SEC) would earn between $800,000 and $1.2 million per season, depending on their school and the percentage of revenue that was shared with each player.
As of now, several states are making their own NIL laws, in which they’re allowing athletes to make money. A lot of that legislation would go into effect on July 1 of this year. According to the New York Times, more changes are soon to come. The NCAA says that one of its most influential panels is “expected to act” to change the rules on players being paid during a meeting that begins on June 22.
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