From Andy Staples’ O’Bannon primer comes this about the possibility of a settlement:
If the class gets certified and the schools and the NCAA decide to cut a deal with the plaintiffs, the possibilities are endless. This is the most logical: The schools agree to set aside a portion of revenue — one power-conference AD I spoke to recently tossed out $2 million a year — to distribute to athletes. This money would be placed in a trust and given to the athlete only when that athlete obtains a degree.
From a practical standpoint, this would require a new NCAA subdivision. The schools of the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC are the only ones that could afford such a model. This would offer them an even greater recruiting advantage than they already have over the poorer leagues. They would have to compete only amongst themselves in football. From a viewer’s standpoint, that would be fantastic. School leaders insist such a settlement would require them to distribute the money evenly among all athletes so as not to run afoul of Title IX. If so, it still wouldn’t address the issue of a select few athletes receiving significantly less than market value. It could lead to more legal action, but conversations with those on the plaintiffs’ side suggest this is a deal they’d be willing to make.[Emphasis added.] But it would cost much more than $2 million a year per school.
Assuming that logical and the NCAA isn’t an oxymoron in this setting, there is probably a number out there that both sides could live with. But it would likely put more than a few smaller, less profitable programs out of the D-1 game, or force a wholesale rejiggering of the division to reflect the new economic realities. As Staples writes, that’s not necessarily a bad thing for fans. But you wonder how some politicians might feel about it, particularly if a few of the offended small fry choose to complain.