Is EA Sports the hill that the NCAA is ready to die on?

Go back and read this quote from Mark Emmert about paying college athletes:

“I don’t like that idea, I loathe that idea,” Emmert said. “I can think of all kinds of compelling reasons why not to do it. I can’t think of a compelling reason why to do it. . . . There’s a constant discussion that we ought to stop pretending that student-athletes are amateurs, that they’re really professionals, that they ought to be paid.

“I understand that perspective, but I just profoundly disagree with it.”

Even if you buy that argument and extend it to prohibiting players from profiting from their own names, how can the NCAA deny payment to former players?  Once they’ve left school, there’s no amateurism left to protect.  To me, this is where the NCAA’s sanctimony turns into something more akin to basic greed.

I still think the O’Bannon suit (and the eight others) wind up getting settled, but I have to wonder if Emmert is blind enough to believe his side will prevail.  It’s a helluva risk.  If the NCAA loses, would Emmert stick by his convictions strongly enough to walk away from a revenue stream that, even if shared, would likely be significant?  And if he were, do his member schools share the same sentiment?


Filed under It's Just Bidness, The NCAA

21 responses to “Is EA Sports the hill that the NCAA is ready to die on?

  1. TennesseeDawg

    If players were to get a cut of, let’s say, jersey sales, photos, autographs, pics of their likeness, etc; would a 4 star running back be better going to a middle of the pack D-1 school were he has a higher chance of being a star or to a top D-1 program were he battles other top recruits? In other words you could be a big fish at Oklahoma St. making a bigger cut of profits than a smaller fish at Alabama were you might be just a 2nd or 3rd stringer.


    • gernblanski

      It could make sense if the recruit stays at the BCS AQ level and he is confident that they can win. However, there are well-published lists of the school that sell the most merchandise and the schools on the list are pretty much the same as the ones that dominate the recruiting rankings now.


  2. tdawgjenkins

    let them get paid for endorsing products,just put a cap on it so it is not a bidding war


    • I don’t think you have to go anywhere near that far. Simply allow them to profit off of their names with things like jersey sales. The schools have already set the market value for that.


      • hk

        Thats going pretty far. If these kids get paid for their college careers, we’re going to see a lot more OTL and 30/30 about athletes who fell off the map way too soon. Its no secret that the vast majority of these kids have family/friends/mentors, etc. waiting on their pay day once the kid gets to the pros and it destroys a lot of them as it is.

        All paying them for their college careers would do is put that bulls-eye on the kids at an earlier age. Whether these kids are getting paid while they’re in college, or out of some trust that they can’t touch till they graduate or leave early (which we’d see a whole lot more of), they’re going to have to deal with the people close to them who are in need (whether they’re actually in need or just a leech), while they’re still in college. If they’re paid in college, the cash is there. If its into a trust they can’t touch till after college, there’s going to be people wanting to extend under the table credit to each and every one of these kids. I’m aware this already happens with some of these kids, but having actual cash, rather than a potential pro contract to look forward to, will only make that worse.

        Perhaps putting that money into some sort of health insurance program to help these kids deal with the later life effects of playing college football might be a good compromise. They get another huge benefit on top of a college education, but don’t have to worry about people holding their hands out while they’re still in college. Perhaps make it need based so it basically takes care of the guys who get beat up pretty bad but don’t get pro contracts.

        There’s still the issue of who gets how much and whether profitable schools like Bama, Texas, UGA, and Florida should have to subsidize the less popular/profitable schools, but hey, its something.


        • Go Dawgs!

          I reject the idea that we’ve got to take care of these poor, dumb kids who can’t possibly have the intelligence to manage their own money, so we just won’t give them any. Are there athletes who will blow all of the money on candy and comic books or have it sunk into Cecil’s church? Sure. But you know what? That’s their fault. It shouldn’t hold them or others back from getting a piece of their own name.

          By the way, you can get a 7-figure signing bonus on your high school graduation day if you happen to be better at hitting a curve ball than you are at making an open-field tackle. I don’t see a lot of hand-wringing over THOSE stupid kids getting ripped off by their hangers-on.


  3. hk

    I agree with the argument that players do get paid; college is expensive. Maybe adding a small standard stipend to that could help, but anything beyond that would be an incredible shit show. Really, though, I’m just for any outcome that doesn’t jeopardize my yearly college football Christmas in mid July; the release of “EA Sports NCAA Football 20__”


  4. Scorpio Jones, III

    Senator….what happens if you are correct that the cases are settled without going to court….does this still establish a precedent?


    • Matt

      No, settling a case before it goes to court or gets decided does not create precedent.


      • Mayor of Dawgtown

        Which is precisely why a defendant with exposure to similar plaintiffs for similar claims might want to settle–to avoid setting a precedent in court, particularly an appellate court.


  5. The Big Lebowski

    Senator, and any other lawyers on here, what do you think of EA’s argument about the potential damage to freedom of speech? It sounds like a horseshit strawman to me, but I’m just a lowly English major.


    • 69Dawg

      EA just needs to not allow the program to be modified to put the names on the jerseys. Their whole argument is disingenuous. They could use the position stats and the numbers but not allow names if they wanted to.


  6. Bouncerdawg

    What if the money went into a trust like some of you suggested, but you only got it if you exhausted your eligibility at the school? That would benefit the NCAA and the schools, but it would incentivize the player to stay in school (most likely also graduating) rather than jump early to the NFL or NBA. That’s no different than a standard deferred compensation plan set up for executives with the restriction that they don’t get it unless they stay at the company for a certain number of years, etc. If you feel the need to jump to the pros early, so be it, but your money goes somewhere else then – only question is where it goes I suppose. Thoughts?


  7. Bouncerdawg

    Let me be clear about my suggestion above . . . you’re never going to keep the top 10 draft pick who’s an underclassman in school – there’s just too much to risk by staying. But those other 73 players or whatever who think they’re good enough to jump and then don’t get drafted until the 5th round or even not at all would stay in school and continue producing on the field while also continuing to get their education. It’s close to a win-win . . . the only people who don’t win are the NFL and NBA – they’d have a SERIOUS problem with it I suspect!


  8. DawgPhan

    I think that most of you dont understand what type of money we are talking about from jersey and video game likeness. We are not talking about millions of dollars…even for superstar AJ Green and Tebow type players. We are talking about hundreds and maybe 1000’s. Putting $1000 into a trust for 4 years seems a little like overkill. Much like getting a $.50 royalty check for the every time EA sells a copy of NCAA…

    The better solution would be to have each school negotiate their won deal with EA Sports and then use the money from that to buy something for the athletes in that program…maybe they have pizza day or everyone gets an ipad or something like that, but dividing the money between the thousand of athletes means processing checks for less than it costs to process the check.


  9. A college education is very expensive & is worth much more to the student during his or her lifetime. They are definitely getting well paid now.
    Title X: ETC.: If you do somethng for student athletes in one sport, you have to do the same for the student athletes in all sports??
    Room & Board & a free education seem to be enough in my opinion.
    A Plantation System.??. Get real because it is not one.


  10. 69Dawg

    The NFL controls this one from the get go. They have unilaterally decided that by and large a football player needs to have 3 years of training and conditioning after high school. They have also decided that they are willing to fore go the exceptional high school player because the good old NCAA is offering free farm teams to add this service. So they make an arbitrary rule that they won’t draft anybody before their 3 years out of high school. This is of course horse hockey but the NFL has the gold so they make the rules. Major League Baseball’s model is the fairest to the athlete. When they think you are ready for the farm system you get drafted. I don’t know why the NFL doesn’t go that way and say they will draft you at anytime they think you are ready to play in the league. If you get drafted then you should be able to go or stay and continue in college. This crap of being ineligible if you declare for the draft is the worst part. The NCAA could just make a rule that if you are drafted you can choose to stay without it affecting your eligibility. For that matter I think if you want an agent to help you, you should be able to get one without the NCAA going ballistic. There is a big difference between a personal agent and a booster. The booster wants you to play for good ole What’s-a-Matter U the agent just wants you when you have gone pro. It’s time somebody gave a thought to the welfare of the players.


  11. Dog in Fla

    Emmert’s secretary gives him recap of hill battles lost that she received from her great-grandfather including Hills 861, 875 and Battle of the Slopes and recommends settlement before he turns O’Bannon into an Andy Messersmith. Emmert asks what does the Luftewaffe have to do with it.