The NCAA is inching closer towards a direct pay solution for athletes

As the NCAA marches towards an unknown territory (one that it may not see through to the end), a major sticking point that has to be addressed is the discussion of athletes being paid for their play from the universities and not third-party companies. Now, that reality might not be as far away as it once seemed.

On May 2, details of a potential settlement between universities and student-athletes came out that would cost power universities up to $300 million over the course of a decade in revenue sharing with their athletes, per Yahoo Sports’ Ross Dellenger. While that’s a big, big number that’s sure to rile up everyone, a breakdown of where that number is coming from makes a lot of sense for the future:

  • $17-22 million distribution of revenue, similar to a salary cap in the NFL.
  • $2 million withheld in NCAA distribution.
  • Up to $10 million in withheld NCAA distribution for sport-specific expansion, scholarship costs, etc.

The big number and concept here is the salary cap, effectively ending the fake concept of amateurism the NCAA has tried to push. According to Dellenger, it would be about 30% of the average revenue that a Power Five school would make.

While this has been floated around in conference circles, the future of it seems up in the air. Each conference seems like they have their own thoughts on whether they want it to go through or not. The Big Ten and their schools, according to Dellenger, wants to push this settlement over the finish line. However, the Big Ten and SEC make significantly more money than the ACC and Big 12, making their incentive to go and get this done a little bit higher.

The most important aspect of this is the timing. If this settlement goes through, the revenue sharing model would begin between the fall of 2025 and 2026. According to Dellenger, the settlement is reliant on the case Fontenot v. NCAA, which asks the Supreme Court to rule that the NCAA gives billions of dollars to college athletes in compensation from televised broadcasts. There are multiple other cases that the NCAA is involved in, but getting that one settled would help rope everything else in and begin the settlement process.

It’s looking more and more likely that the NCAA and college football won’t be the same after this summer. While the change is going to bring a lot more money into student-athletes hands, the process being expedited could bring about the end of the NCAA overall.

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