The US Supreme Court recently decided that NCAA Student Athletes could earn money “off their name, image, or likeness,” a snowball California started rolling with its 2019 “Fair Pay to Play Act,” a forerunner to what the NCAA is now legally compelled to permit. 

The bill signed that year into law by Gov. Newsome stipulates that, “scholarship from the [university] in which a student is enrolled…is not compensation” and that “a scholarship shall not be revoked as a result of earning compensation[.]” 

Soon thereafter, Pennsylvania, Representatives Dan Miller and Ed Gainey, both Allegany County Democrats, circulated a bill that would, in Miller’s words, recognize that “The future is starting in California. It’s time to roll. Let’s get Pennsylvania in play.”  

Is the majority of ideological thinking in California aligned with Pennsylvania? 

Give that some thought and get back to me. 

Republican Scott Miller’s current bill on the matter, SB 808, stipulates that an “athletics grant-in-aid or stipend scholarship may not be revoked or reduced as a result of a college student athlete earning compensation under this article, except if otherwise mandated by Federal or state student aid guidelines.”

Fair enough, but a question remains: could the university nonetheless develop a formula that would reduce the overall amount of scholarship money to offset its overhead?

If we use Temple as an example, an out-of-state student athlete would be paying back about $50,000 if it were not for the scholarship. Is the university not entitled to those costs? And what about the cost of the hired trainers, nutritionists, and tutors – and the facilities management team, let alone facilities’ usage? Well, we’re now well into the six-digit neighborhood, aren’t we? 

Is the university obliged to provide these facilities and services at no cost? 

Or, if this is a business arrangement, should universities be able to write off all costs for the student athletes? Sustainable? I doubt it.

A potentially better scenario:couldn’t the law be amended so that state colleges and universities make compensation contingent upon degree completion? The law says that the money due the student athletes cannot be prevented, but what about delayed? 

This model could be a general framework for dealing with revenue generated that exceeds the attendance costs. Student athletes would still, in accordance with the new decision, have access to those funds, but they would first need to do what people are supposed to do at college: graduate. 

Where do we see this in “the real world?” If a sales representative’s employment contract says there’s no bonus if he or she doesn’t meet a given sales target, why not have the student athlete earn their degree for that extra dough? After all, isn’t the university’s primary responsibility to educate? Or is it to merely entertain us on Saturday afternoons? Answer: the former, not the latter.

If the institutions who take in these student athletes fail to remember their education mission and do not look at creative ways to foster a balance between athletics and academics for their student athletes, they should drop all sports and allow the professional leagues to form developmental athletics programs. I am not an advocate of this path, but exactly how this balance will be borne out in light of the NCAA v. Alston decision remains to be seen. 

How can the NCAA and the D-I programs work together for the student athletes on establishing trust funds contingent upon graduation, academic support (e.g., tutoring) and financial literacy training? After all, are they not students first, athletes second?

If the institutions who take in these student athletes fail to remember their education mission and do not look at creative ways to foster a balance between athletics and academics for their student athletes, they should drop all sports and allow the professional leagues to form developmental athletics programs.

I will close with the yet-unresolved Title IX issue, the law that “prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded education program or activity,” according to the U.S Department of Justice. 

Ironically, the only member of the wise nine who even once mentioned Title IX at all was the man who the Left accused of being a heavy drinking womanizer. 

In demonstrating the horse for that falsehood has no saddle, Justice Kavanaugh wrote, “How would any compensation regime comply with Title IX? If paying student athletes requires something like a salary cap in some sports to preserve competitive balance [between male and female student athletes], how would that cap be administered?” 

The Harrisburg legislature and athletic departments at schools like Temple will have fun finding answers to those questions.

Dr. Brooks is East Stroudsburg University’s former NCAA Faculty Athletic Representative 

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