Compensating College Athletes

April 24, 2020 • Volume 30, Issue 16
Should players profit from the use of their names and images?
By Bethany Bradsher


As college sports has grown into a multibillion-dollar industry, the push to allow its athletes to receive a share of those revenues has gained momentum in legislative and judicial arenas. In the past year, three states have enacted legislation to allow college athletes to profit from the use of their names, images and likenesses (NIL), and 31 others are considering such laws. The trend challenges the long-established principle of strict amateurism enforced by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). The impetus for change is driven in part by how much money college sports programs now earn from broadcast rights, ticket sales and donations — $14.8 billion during the 2017-18 school year alone. In addition, studies have shown a vast disparity between how much players receive in scholarships and how much athletic departments spend on themselves. The NCAA argues that laws allowing athletes to profit from their college performances raise constitutional issues, would erase the distinction between college and professional athletics and would give some schools an unfair recruiting advantage.

Ohio State football players (Getty Images/Jamie Sabau)
Ohio State football players warm up before a game against Penn State at Ohio Stadium in 2019. As college sports has grown increasingly lucrative, advocates for players are questioning the NCAA's policy of strict amateurism, which holds that athletes cannot profit from the use of their names and likenesses while in college. (Getty Images/Jamie Sabau)
ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
College Sports
Apr. 24, 2020  Compensating College Athletes
Jun. 03, 2016  College Athletics
Jul. 11, 2014  Paying College Athletes
Nov. 18, 2011  College Football
Mar. 19, 2004  Reforming Big-Time College Sports
Mar. 23, 2001  Sportsmanship
Aug. 26, 1994  College Sports
Aug. 15, 1986  College Sports Under Fire
Apr. 15, 1983  Changing Environment in College Sports
Sep. 05, 1975  Future of Varsity Sports
Sep. 10, 1952  Commercialism in College Athletics
College Financing and Funding
Economic Analyses, Forecasts, and Statistics
Education Policy
Popular Culture
Radio and Television
Regulation and Deregulation
Sports and Recreation
Students and Social Life