After criticism from players and coaches, politicians, and former athletes turned analysts like Jay Bilas, Kirk Herbstreit, Jay Williams, and countless others, the NCAA finally said they're close to ruling in favor of letting athletes market off their profitability.
Three years ago when I started this blog I said the best solution to solving this issue would be to remove the Universities from it entirely. Having each school determine how much a player is worth would be, as the NCAA has repeatedly said, impossible.
Nowadays more than ever the opportunities for big-name players to earn money through sponsorships, paid advertisements, and marketing deals are bigger than ever. With social platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, some of these athletes are coming into college with hundreds of thousands, if not millions of followers.
Based on information from an article in Forbes, they break down how much athletes get paid by the amount of engagement they are generating. The numbers are absolutely ridiculous.
Let's take for instance an athlete like Zion Williamson, who came into Duke with roughly 2 million Instagram followers. During last year's college basketball season Zion was THE storyline. Everywhere you turned you saw Zion this, and Zion that. Everyone knew he would be the consensus #1 pick in the draft, sign a shoe deal with the company of his choosing, and handpick any other sponsorship from a long list of desired companies. Throughout that year Zion, and every other college athlete, was unable to market off the millions upon millions of dollars they were bringing into their respective Universities.
It's no secret this inevitable change was coming it was just a matter of when the NCAA would make their final ruling. What will be interesting to watch is how these programs will now cater their recruitment towards "profitability." Thousands of programs have already brought in social media strategists to show them the best ways to market their players, and in turn, market their teams. Major college teams like the Dukes, the Alabama's, and the Clemson's of the world are already ahead of the pack.
They hire photographers, videographers, editors, content creators, graphic designers to build posts for these athletes. Just take a look at some of the posts from players like Tua Tagovailoa, Trevor Lawrence, and Justin Fields.
They're already getting world-class treatment when it comes to marketability, and it shows when they go on to sign multi-million dollar endorsement deals upon leaving college. This is going to have a tremendous impact on the recruitment of athletes and their selection process, picking which school is the right fit.
Why this was the right decision:
The NCAA has had a long battle over the years with high school athletes electing to forego college and play in alternate leagues in order to start earning money right away. I firmly believe this rule change will significantly increase the number of athletes choosing to go to college and drastically decrease the number of players taking their talents overseas.
The proof is in the pudding, the right decision is always to go to college. But for whatever reasons, financial or otherwise, athletes feel the need to start making money right away and turn down the opportunity to get a free education (regardless of how many years they go for).
Another perk to all of this is, as fans we WANT to see the best players play in college. There's no other atmosphere like college football and basketball. We WANT to see the best players at that level compete on some of the biggest stages that sports have to offer. I am interested to see what chaos will ensue as a result of all this because if there's one thing we know about the NCAA, their mission to keep the games ~fair~, isn't really all that fair.