There have been some interesting developments lately in the debate over compensation of top college athletes, who, as we know, are basically professionals, given the amount of time they have to devote to their sport at the expense of their education.
First off, the NCAA was absolutely humiliated this week when commentator and former Duke basketball star Jay Bilas pointed out on Twitter that at the same time the governing body of college sports was investigating Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel for selling his autographs, it was hawking his jersey on its website.
Bilas has often been a refreshing voice in the obnoxious landscape of sports punditry, as his essay on the state of amateur basketball makes clear. And he was on the money again with the Manziel matter. The NCAA, in response, said it would stop selling jerseys on its website.
Meanwhile, the commissioners of the five biggest conferences–the SEC, the Big East, the ACC, The Big 10, and the Pac-12–issued sharp criticism of the NCAA’s oversight role and its policy on amateurism, and seemed to hint that they were considering dropping out of the association altogether.
And then there is the elephant in the corner–the lawsuit filed by former UCLA basketball star Ed O’Bannon, which claims that NCAA made money off of him and other athletes without compensating them long after they were no longer in college. The NCAA could lose its “nonprofit” designation and be forced to make a huge financial payout.
For more on the issue, read Taylor Branch’s excellent article in the Atlantic.