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NCAA makes right choice in student-athlete benefit decision

By Zack Miller | Nov 21, 2019

It has been tough mentally to decide which side of the aisle I want to be on when it comes to paying college student-athletes.

On one side, athletes in the college ranks made a choice to play a sport they love after high school, or, in some cases, prep school, and have to abide by the rules set by the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

But, on the other, is it right for an organization to profit from those athletes, all the while not allowing them to make a couple of dollars off a signature or picture? I do not believe so, but I also think the former point is true, which is why this issue has given my brain countless hours of debacle.

Recently, the NCAA came to the decision to allow athletes to benefit from their name, image and likeness. The "official" rule has not been set, and, from what I have read, will not be set for another year, or maybe two.

It is a victory for athletes who want to sign autographs, take pictures, etc. and sell them to make some money. They are not going to get rich off doing so, but can use the money for college expenses or spending money.

I mean, who does not like a little extra cash in their pocket?

The rule also allows athletes to "own" themselves, and not be punished for something so trivial as a sold autograph, which hurts no one in the long run, or the short run for that matter.

According to the NCAA website, two percent of college athletes turn pro, and once that happens, can profit off of their name, image and likeness without repercussions, since they are not bound by the NCAA rules anymore.

The odds are not good an athlete will turn pro and have the opportunity to make a bunch of money, so it is a relief the NCAA has decided to back off in the years to come.

This new rule though will really put the NCAA to the test, as they will have to be specific in how they lay it all out, because teams and players will find those gray areas and exploit them.

A problem with the new rule I can see arising is how high school student-athletes are recruited.

Larger schools from the power five conferences — Big Ten, Atlantic Coast College, Southeast Conference, Big 12 and PAC 12 — can make a pitch to prospective college athletes on how they will be marketed, so they can get the most money out of their image, likeness, or name. This will be especially true with the top high school athletes in the country — especially in football and men's and women's basketball — who can choose to go to any university they would like.

The rule will allow athletes to dive further down the hole of: What can you do for me?

That is there now, of course, as all athletes want to be able to turn pro, so they choose a school that will give them the best chance to get there, as well as the education offered, relationships with coaches and distance from home.

The rule also adds another challenge for coaches and athletic departments alike, which may hinder smaller schools whose athletic budgets are not as large, even if said university is in a power five conference.

Take college football for example; there is a sizable difference in the athletic departments and boosters between the University of Alabama and the University of Missouri in the SEC. Or, in college basketball, Duke and Virginia Tech in the ACC.

All of this is speculation, and for all I — and the rest of us for that matter — know, the rule could go off without a hitch, or it could bomb, and the college sports landscape crumbles.

Many people are outspoken for athletes to get paid to play, which is something I do not agree with. I believe that is too far, but I also believe this new rule is a good middle ground.

I just hope things do not get ruined in college sports. I enjoy college sports more than professional sports most of the time, but for now, we wait, and I will continue to rack my brain in the process, and hope for the best.

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