Critical Analysis of Proposed Models of College Athlete Compensation
The Drake Group believes that the current pressure on higher education institutions to pay college athletes well beyond the full cost of education has been created by root failures of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) to:
- articulate and implement an educational sport system that allows college athletes to be treated like non-athlete students with regard to employment other than employment as professional athletes and other economic opportunities outside the institution, including the right to exploit their own names, images and likenesses unrelated to those of their academic institutions;
- mandate that the use of the considerable revenues from the commercial success of college sports first be used to provide the 480,000 college athletes attending member institutions with adequate health, safety, and insurance protection rather than lavish and unnecessary athletics facilities and excessive compensation of coaches and administrators;
- prohibit the admission of college athletes through waiver of normal academic admissions standards by any member institution or that such waivers be proportional to athlete representation in the student body which would pressure professional football and basketball leagues to maintain their own viable minor league systems as compensation alternatives while, more importantly, removing the primary causative mechanism underlying fraudulent academic practices to keep these students eligible; and
- further limit the amount of time athletes spend in sports-related activities, eliminate transfer rule penalties and require non-revocable four-year scholarships which would ensure that college athletes (especially those in revenue-producing sports) be treated as students rather than employees.
The Drake Group believes that answers to the fair athlete compensation issue require addressing the above failures rather than tax-exempt educational institutions emulating professional sports businesses.
This position paper explains the differences between educational sport and professional sport, exposes the myth of amateurism and details a College-Athlete-as-Bona-Fide-Student model that should replace the current NCAA compensation model. Also examined are the weaknesses of three college athlete compensation models currently being offered by others: (1) a College-Revenue-Sport-Athlete Special Compensation model being advanced by several anti-trust lawsuits brought by college athlete plaintiffs, (2) an Institutional-Athlete-Employee model proposed for those intercollegiate sports that are “self-supporting,” that might exist inside the institution’s tax-exempt education organization as an auxiliary enterprise and (3) a College-Athlete-and-Affiliated-Professional-Sports-League Operating Outside the NCAA System model designed to supplement college athlete income.