Special to Sports News Highlights

(SNH) — For decades, the NCAA went to painstaking efforts to keep college athletes from being paid. Declaring them amateurs, aside from scholarships, they were forbidden from receiving any money.

Even though billions of dollars were being raked in players, coaches, and entire schools were penalized – often harshly – for any financial impropriety.

Thanks to Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) deals, the purse string for “student athletes” were finally loosened, and they were allowed to earn money from things like endorsements. It didn’t, however, take too long for this to be exploited, and now under the guise of boosters, certain players are making millions, which puts some teams at a distinct advantage over others.

But now, nearly all college athletes could be eligible for a payday, even if they aren’t a highly touted player or suiting up for a prestigious program. This is because the NCAA recently agreed to pay nearly $2.8 billion to settle a variety of antitrust lawsuits. As a result, a new revenue-sharing model will take effect, perhaps as soon as next year.

“Our clients are the bedrock of the NCAA’s multibillion-dollar business and finally can be compensated in an equitable and just manner for their extraordinary athletic talents,” said Steve Berman, an attorney for the plaintiffs.

So, what could regular paychecks for college players mean going forward? Let’s take a look at the winners and losers.


The players themselves come out as the clear winners with this agreement. And not just those currently on teams – the NCAA also has to pay former players dating back to 2016 who say the old rules stopped them from earning any money from endorsements or sponsorships. While it stands to reason that the players who bring in the most money – namely, those on basketball and football teams – will get the highest salaries, athletes in all sports will be eligible to get paid.


On the surface, the NCAA looks like the big loser here. In addition to all that money they need to dish out, their fabled (though mostly imaginary) view of amateur athletes wanting to play only for pride and glory has died. However, now that they can legally and openly pay players, this just gives teams a lucrative recruiting tool, and it probably won’t be long before there are huge bidding wars for top prospects.


One of the big remaining questions with this deal is what will happen to professional leagues, specifically the NFL and NBA, who get most of their players from the collegiate ranks. While the top picks in the draft in both leagues make millions, the same isn’t necessarily true for the guys chosen in later rounds. In fact, there are many rookies in the NFL who make less than $1 million per year. What happens if their colleges decide to offer them more than that? Will they stay in school? Would professional teams and colleges eventually start competing with one other to sign players?

It will soon be a whole new ballgame for college athletics. And while players certainly deserve to benefit financially from their skill and effort, there’s a good chance that this whole thing could get pretty messy pretty quickly. Perhaps the Notorious B.I.G. said it best when he said “Mo money, mo problems.”

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