On Feb. 4, California Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley introduced a senate bill called the Fair to Play Act that would allow college athletes to receive compensation in the form of third-party endorsements or sponsorships. The NCAA has had a long-standing history with athlete compensation, or a lack thereof and the Fair to Play Act is one of many recent campaigns designed to generate greater equality for these college athletes.
The NCAA is a billion-dollar company that does not give a cent to its players. It collects over $800 million annually in just television and marketing fees, with another $100 million acquired through their championships and other investments.
In 2009 former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon filed a lawsuit against the NCAA for licensing the rights to his likeness in EA Sports’ “NCAA Basketball ‘09” video game. O’Bannon would eventually win the case, with the court ruling that the NCAA’s practice of barring payments to athletes violated antitrust laws.
A 2012 study by the National College Players Association and Drexel University Sports Management Program found that the 10 players with the highest market value, ranging from $345,000 to $514,000, all lived below the federal poverty line.
Another study in 2014 by the College Sport Research Institute at the University of South Carolina found that male college athletes had a 17.5 percent lower chance to graduate when compared to non-athlete male students.
With many game programs and posters using the players’ faces to promote the school, the athletes get nothing out of it. It should be a criminal act not to pay these athletes because they are being exploited for their free labor.
Amidst the many scandals throughout recent years, the system within the NCAA is clearly broken and something has to be done.
This bill could be the first of many necessary changes to help athletes win a war against an organization that is already in hot water.