In a headache started by former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon, the NCAA has had its hands tied in a players rebellion to receive financial recognition for using their names in video games, as well as off-field appearances, such as commercials and jersey sales.
EA Sports and the College Licensing Co. have experienced this most recently in a movement that was considered by U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken in the O’Bannon case as “commercial exploitation of the student-athlete.”
Big Ten athletic director Jim Delaney stated in 2013 that the conference would opt out to compete in D-III because the division’s model aligns with Big Ten values (via SI.com):
“…it has been my longstanding belief that The Big Ten’s schools would forgo the revenues in those circumstances and instead take steps to downsize the scope, breadth and activity of their athletic programs. Several alternatives to a ‘pay for play’ model exist, such as the Division III model, which does not offer any athletics-based grants-in-aid, and, among others, a need-based financial model. These alternatives would, in my view, be more consistent with The Big Ten’s philosophy that the educational and lifetime economic benefits associated with a university education are the appropriate quid pro quo for its student athletes.”
Notre Dame President Reverend John I. Jenkins echoed Delaney’s words in 2013 and applied them to a New York Times commentary about Notre Dame seeking a semi-professional structure, where athletes receive some shares of revenue:
“Father Jenkins, a passionate defender of his alma mater, has considered the arguments. He agrees that the N.C.A.A. is struggling to find its role on a changed playing field. And, in what may come as a surprise, he suggests that student-athletes should be able to monetize their fame, with limits.
“But he adamantly opposes a model in which college sheds what is left of its amateur ways for a semiprofessional structure — one in which universities pay their athletes. “Our relationship to these young people is to educate them, to help them grow,” he says. “Not to be their agent for financial gain.”
“And if that somehow comes to pass, he says, Notre Dame will leave the profitable industrial complex that is elite college football, boosters be damned, and explore the creation of a conference with like-minded universities.
“That’s right: Notre Dame would take its 23.9-karat-gold-flecked football helmets and play elsewhere.
“Perhaps institutions will make decisions about where they want to go — a semipro model or a different, more educational model — and I welcome that,” Father Jenkins says. “I wouldn’t consider that a bad outcome, and I think there would be schools that would do that.”
Losing Notre Dame – and the Big Ten in general – would be a major slap in the face for the NCAA, as Notre Dame’s value is marked at $811.5 million, according to a professor at Indiana.
*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY Sports