(WLBT) - Ed O’Bannon has never really been a name that has crossed my mind over the last eight or so years. Make no mistake, amateur athletes fighting for pseudo-professionalism is something that dates back long before played college basketball in the early 1990′s, but in a lot of ways he is the father of this most recent revolution against the NCAA.
After all, it was his class action suit filed against the NCAA that killed our beloved football video game. I and many others are still not over that.
Even then, I never really cared what O’Bannon was thinking.
That changed on Tuesday afternoon when the NCAA Board of Governors voted unanimously in favor of collegiate athletes being compensated for their name, image and likeness.
When that news hit, I admittedly spent about an hour dreaming up new features for EA Sports’ next installment of NCAA Football, then I did a Twitter search for O’Bannon and his biography was too perfect:
“Just enjoying this gorgeous day.”
Now, I have no idea if that is something that he has always had on his page, but I like to believe he put that there in wake of the vote.
For O’Bannon and those that sided with him, Tuesday’s news seems like a landmark win for them. The headline, of course, being that college athletes have the chance to cash in. But obviously, there are also those that feel like we’re now about to see a full-on deterioration of our precious college sports. We have a North Carolina senator already trying to legislate the heck out of this.
Look I get it, we are all inherently fearful of change, especially when the doomsday scenario in all of this is that college football becomes 100-times more commercialized than it already is and slimy sports agents and handlers can run amok.
I’ll admit that I have been on the side of players being allowed to market themselves.
Something just never sat well with me about Zion Williamson or Trevor Lawrence dump-trucking money on the NCAA’s lap while they don’t see a dime. If you can make money off of who you are and what your name is, it only seems right that no organization should be able to block that only for the money to go towards it.
I guess the only other alternative would be that the player or organization gets the money, but that obviously is ridiculous.
Anyway, the crux of the topic that was voted seems like the only viable option.
Another argument in favor of paying players was for the schools to dish out salaries which never would’ve worked. Would it be a flat rate for everyone or does Tua Tagovailoa get a higher salary than Jesse Vasquez, the backup long-snapper at Utah State? How would UL-Monroe, a school that pays head coach Matt Viator only $390K get the money to pay player salaries? Also, what about baseball and women’s basketball?
Just way too many pitfalls if that was the route taken.
But with this vote, the schools are out of the equation.
Now, will we have cases where a used car dealership throws Scrooge McDuck money at a five-star high school recruit? Yeah, probably.
But if that player doesn’t pan out, it’s a sunk cost and that company would hopefully spend that money a little wiser in the future. In theory, the market balance out and set itself based on the viability of the player, regardless of sport.
Beyond that though, collegiate athletes should now be able to profit off of their own business ventures.
It was beyond ridiculous that back in 2017, two University of Iowa swimmers had to basically revamp their t-shirt start-up that had nothing to do with swimming. However, because they were college athletes, the NCAA stepped in.
And that’s what still has me a little uneasy with all of this.
The NCAA is still overseeing this process and lets just say that there track record isn’t the best. While it was a unanimous vote for change, there were not many specifics given in how the changes will come about, just that they will come and soon at that. There’s also still the small matter of current laws in place pretty much everywhere outside of California where paying collegiate athletes violate tax codes.
It’ll be fun seeing that repeal process go through federal court.
But that is another worry for another day. There is still not much clarity on how this all ends, but just the fact that the NCAA is at least willing to work towards a solution for a change is reason to celebrate.
Just like O’Bannon said, for now all we can do is just enjoy this gorgeous day.