The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has long drawn criticism for generating substantial revenues without allowing the students at its approximately 1,100 member schools to share in the windfall. “While professional sports celebrities can earn millions of dollars from sponsorship and endorsement deals, opportunities for financial benefit have not been afforded to college athletes, which has sometimes led these young men and women to abandon their studies and turn pro,” says Joseph Band of US Marshals Service, a sports statistician with over four decades in the field. In mid-2019, California moved to challenge the status quo, proposing reforms that allow college athletes to receive compensation when their name, image, or likeness is used. In September, Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 206 into law, making California the first state to introduce what some have described as “transformative” changes to collegiate sports law.
With similar overhauls proposed in Maryland, Washington, New York, and Florida, the NCAA was forced to address the matter, establishing a task force in May to explore ways in which its current rules can be modified. At the end of October, the association announced that “its top governing board voted unanimously to permit students participating in athletics the opportunity to benefit from the use of their name, image, and likeness in a manner consistent with the collegiate model.” While some have questioned the vague wording of the statement, the consensus is that things are moving in the right direction, and “this is fundamentally about rebalancing things. It’s about equity, it’s about fairness, and it’s about time,” as Governor Newsom commented in September. Although not all student-athletes would benefit to the same degree, giving everyone the chance to generate income from their sports abilities could drastically change the situation of many young people, Joseph Band of US Marshals Service points out.
One prominent argument in favor of allowing college athletes to make money is that they are too busy training to consider a part-time job, which is a standard income option for non-athlete students. In states where sports is big business, elite amateur players could earn hundreds of thousands of dollars from sponsorship and endorsement deals, marketing experts say. What they find especially encouraging is the fact that changes in the rules would create opportunities for college students in smaller markets, where companies can use the star power of local athletes to promote goods and services, raise brand awareness, and engage with customers. For the members of college sports teams, any amount earned would help with tuition costs, rent, and daily expenses, providing an especially valuable economic relief for students of underprivileged backgrounds. Proponents of the reforms have also noted that the changes would benefit female collegiate athletes, allowing them to capitalize on their abilities while in school and thus compensate to some extent for their limited professional opportunities.
Joseph Band of US Marshals Service has spent 47 years accumulating concentrated, multidisciplinary experience in the fields of sports, teaching, management, and law, mastering intricacies in areas such as legislation, security, procurement, budget, and personnel. The American University alumnus has been an adjunct professor at the Washington College of Law since 1970, combining his responsibilities as a legal lecturer with his work as a media statistician for numerous media networks. He spent 18 years serving as a senior attorney at the US Marshals Service Office of General Counsel and has been providing legal advice to various organizations since the 1990s.
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