A high school athlete’s greatest moment is when they have their Signing Day. It is a day where the athlete knows their hard work has paid off, and that they will continue their education while participating in a sport that they love. This athlete’s life, however, is about to change forever. As the athlete arrives on their new campus for preseason, they are given numerous papers that must be read, and signed. Inevitably, these athletes sign into contracts concerning usage of their likeness, amateurism, participation in events outside of the NCAA, and considerations on gifts or earnings. But what is contained in these contracts? Who gains different rights from athletes? The easy answer is the NCAA and university/ college of the student, but the complex answer is anyone associated with those entities. Vital to this issue, however, is comprehension and a solution.
The paperwork athletes’ sign terms, words, and other legalese that many 18 year olds don’t quite understand. The contractual agreements that are a necessity for college athletes to sign include use of the athlete’s image, ability to showcase the athlete’s talents, hindrance of athlete’s performance in non-sanctioned NCAA events, and many others. From here, the NCAA and the university or college of the athlete’s choice then receives those rights. For instance, when an athlete agrees to go to a university, that university has the right to use the image of that student in promotions for multiple uses including promotion of the athletic department, or promotion for the university itself. The NCAA further gains these rights including athlete eligibility, promotion of the NCAA’s ideals, and even promotion in televised events. These rights provide for billions of dollars into the collegiate business industry, and thus alterations to the current situation are limited.
Numerous solutions to the rampant of NCAA-college athlete issues concerning have been reviewed. For instance, the student-athletes at Northwestern University have attempted to unionize. Similarly, athletes who have since ended their athletic careers such as Ed O’Bannon have brought cases against the NCAA for image usage. The NCAA contends that college athletes receive scholarships which should warrant enough payment for their skills. This is blinded by the fact that some scholarships are revocable due to injury from the sport, or lack of academic success.
So, what other solutions exist? One example is providing athletes with permanent scholarships and worthwhile educational skills they can use after their athletic careers. College athletes may seek payment for their efforts, but realistically this may be an impractical goal. Seeking proper support through technology for preparation and recovery before events, appropriate medical attention, and support for everyday needs may be a better avenue for college athletes who seek equal benefits, for the rights they give up. As Shabazz Napier once said, “I don’t feel student-athletes should get hundreds of thousands of dollars, but like I said, there are hungry nights that I go to bed and I’m starving.” Both the NCAA and athletes need a solution concerning the issues before its too late.