On the latest Sporticast episode, hosts Eben Novy-Williams and Daniel Libit discuss the rapid changes underway in college sports, where new rights for athletes, emboldened state lawmakers and another round of anti-trust lawsuits threaten to forever change the billion-dollar industry.
The NCAA’s business model has been under fire for decades—Novy-Williams mentions a Sports Illustrated cover story from 1980 calling the term “student-athlete” a “hoax“—but never moreso than right now. The upheaval has many in powerful positions openly talking about new economic realities, including the possibility of athletes being paid directly by schools, long considered the antithesis of the NCAA’s amateurism model.
That includes new marketing rights for athletes, known as NIL rights, which have quickly become an umbrella term for all sorts of recruiting enticements that used to happen entirely outside of public view. Booster-funded collectives have begun offering seven-figure packages to elite football and basketball recruits, moving a familiar arms race to a entirely new theater. The richest athletic departments in the country are still looking to flex their advantage over other schools, it’s just manifesting itself in new ways.
The hosts discuss the NCAA’s role in the future of college sports, and what that might mean for the man or woman who replaces Mark Emmert, who agreed last week to step down before his current contract ends. They also talk about a proposed California bill that would mandate that the state’s biggest universities, like UCLA, share revenue with athletes.