National Consumers League

Judge's decision could mean big changes lie ahead for college athletes


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In March I wrote a blog about the NCAA TV advertising juggernaut during the March Madness tournament. I suggested that the millions pouring into NCAA and university coffers from the blood, sweat, and tears of unpaid college athletes was wrong and that these athletes deserved to be paid a fair wage. 

We’re not quite there yet, but federal Judge Claudia Wilken ruled last week that college athletes have a rightful interest in advertising that exploits their names and images. Wilken reached a compromise on giving athletes the right to be paid for their time. Wilken ruled that the NCAA can cap players at $5,000 a year and keep the payments in trust until graduation or until players leave rather than opening up the free market to college athletes, which would mean the richest schools would have the best teams.

Wilken’s decision opens the door – but just a crack - to student athletes getting a piece of the profits that the NCAA and its member schools make off of their labor. But it's a decent start and a wake up call to the NCAA to begin to share the wealth with the very athletes that make them so much money.