Just a taste

Lon Kruger wants to figure out a way to pay the student-athletes who are superstars.

Oklahoma basketball coach Lon Kruger did some homework before he spoke Tuesday on a Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics panel about allowing college players to be paid. Kruger said he interviewed five business owners in Oklahoma and asked them two questions.

First, if the NCAA allowed players to get endorsement money, would the businesses invest $1,000 in athletes for an hour of their time? The owners told Kruger they absolutely would regardless of the impact on their business.

Second, if the NCAA allowed it, how many athletes would the businesses invest in? The owners told Kruger the high end was 10 and the low end was six. Kruger said he was surprised by that answer.

“The goal is to be fair,” Kruger said. “Maybe we start at 2 percent or 5 percent of the student-athletes and how do we help them find their value given that the majority of student-athletes have a pretty fair deal?”

Hey, it’s a start.  And at least he’s willing to concede to reality.

Kruger, who made $2.85 million this year, said he can understand the arguments made that athletes are exploited or undervalued.

“Certainly there are cases where that is true,” he said. “Universities are making millions of dollars off of sales and tickets, merchandise sales, sponsorship rights. No question there’s a lot of money to be made. It’s a big business. … We’re all after some middle ground where we’re fair to the student-athlete and protecting their opportunity to participate.”

To me, this is an easy place for the NCAA to begin to compromise.  Rights deals don’t cost schools a dime and don’t raise any troubling Title IX complications.  Yes, there is a potential for abuse, but it’s not an impossible barrier to overcome with some thought.

Besides, the current format is so illogical.  How can Todd Gurley’s endorsement be worth nothing one day as a college junior and then worth millions on the very next day when he terminates his college eligibility?  Besides that, has anyone considered the possibility that some of these kids might find it preferable to stay in college rather than leave early for the pros if there was endorsement money rolling in for them?


Filed under It's Just Bidness, The NCAA

63 responses to “Just a taste

  1. Jared S.

    I really really like some of this. Specifically, I like the idea of allowing students to earn whatever they want/can on endorsements, but nothing from the universities themselves. (Or if universities do pay student athletes something, they all get the same flat pay-rate). That way schools don’t have to worry about figuring out how much each individual athlete is “worth,” but the market gets to decide.

    And, as you say, wouldn’t it give an incentive to players to stay an additional year in college if they are making money? I really, really like that. God knows I would love to have seen Todd Gurley stay an additional year.

  2. John Denver is full of shit...

    % of Jersey sales, any # jersey sale, along with any endorsement of a player or team on tv or on internet or in print could go into a trust to be received by all players with graduation or forfeited for leaving early or being dismissed from team.

    • Why must there be conditions?

      • John Denver is full of shit...

        I don’t think there should be conditions, but I think this is the quickest solution that could satisfy both parties.

        • Not sure how Gurley signing a huge deal with Nike, having his endorsement plastered all over creation for a couple of years, but then having his trust funds revoked because he decides to go pro early would satisfy him, TBH.

          Great deal for Nike, though.

          • John Denver is full of shit...

            same team man, same team, i think the kids should be covered in cash the same as coaches

            • Oh, no, I realize you are… just not sure your proposal flies as well as you think.

              Keep in mind, it’s the the big names you’re talking about here. It’s likely to be some significant bucks involved.

  3. JG Shellnutt

    I’ve written this here before, so pardon me for the repetition, but I believe each student should be allowed to sign at any time with one and only one advisor / agent. This agent must be registered with the NCAA and the NFL / NFL PA. This agent helps the player navigate through paperwork (maybe even driver’s licenses), draft status, combine prep etc…
    Along the way, though, the agent is allowed to pay the player. This allows the market to drive it as well, without it being quite as subject to impropriety as endorsements obviously would be. Also, only the guys that are superstars get paid (AJ, Stafford, Gurley, Chubb…not our 3rd string long snapper).
    Title IX? Should not be a big deal. All athletes are allowed to sign with an agent. UGA, UT, UConn…these schools should have ladies destined for the WNBA.
    It might also incentivize a decent freshman to work harder and earlier: not just for playing time, but to catch the eye of an agent with deep pockets.

  4. bulldogbry

    Also, couldn’t a publisher invest in a Malcolm Mitchell if they wanted to? Or is the NCAA not interested in positive messages?

  5. I'm right, your wrong

    It’s so adorable how you think this guy is saying this for any reason other than recruiting…bet you think strippers really like you too.

  6. I'm right, your wrong

    It appears you’re a glutton for punishment.

    • One of us is, that’s for sure.

      • I'm right, your wrong

        You’re not really this naive, are you? You actually think this guy gives one shit about “what’s fair to the student athlete”?

        • Why is whether he’s emotionally invested relevant?

          Everything that happens is going to be the result of making tradeoffs. If the schools decide it’s in their narrow best interests to allow players to be compensated for their endorsements, then that’s what will happen. Just as has been the case with COA stipends, food allowances, etc.

          It’s not a morality play, as much as you seem to want it to be.

          • I'm right, you're wrong

            That’s so adorable. You really are a true believer. All along I thought you knew you were just a mouth breather, regurgitating the lawyers talking points. A willing accomplice. But you actually think these people, like this coach, are on a noble mission of some sort. That’s what’s so cute about you democrats, you still believe in Peter Pan.

  7. ASEF

    Do you draw a line at fan and booster bases creating orgs to market certain positions on a team? Let’s say a non-profit wants to pay Alabama’s starting center $2,500 per game for the right to use his likeness and image. Anything goes?

    • Boosters can’t provide benefits to student-athletes now. Why would that need to change?

      (To clarify, I’m asking that question in the context of Kruger’s proposal.)

      • DawgPhan

        good call..I hadnt thought about the booster rule…

        that changes the math a little for all of this.

      • ASEF

        How are you going to define “booster” to prevent it?

        Am I misreading Kruger’s libe about “regardless to the impact on their business?” That sounds like a booster to me.

        I’m not opposing it. Just pointing out this is one of those “all or nothing” deals where you can’t draw lines halfway no matter how well intentioned.

        • The NCAA already defines boosters.

          Keep in mind that while I recognize whom Kruger ran this by, if you read what he’s proposing, it’s only going to apply to 2 or 3 players on a team – the real stars.

          • Cojones

            Boosters are little people. Take a gander at what they trot out when someone asks for a booster seat anywhere.

          • ASEF

            Why just 2 or 3? Why just “real stars”? For that matter, who gets to decide who or what a “real star” is?

            As for the booster definition, a guy paying a player a $1,000 an hour “regardless of the impact on his business” is arguably a booster by the NCAAs definition (arranging work or employment for student athletes).

            Once you buy in to the notion of athletes getting paid for likeness and image, there really are no practical ways to define limits.

            I can start a 501-c3 tomorrow raising awareness on, say, domestic violence. I want hire Georgia football players as my social media spokespeople. I solicit donations from all Georgia and commit 100% of the proceeds to players and battered women shelters.

            What’s stopping me?

            And what’s stopping Stephen Ross from contributing $100,000 to Michigan’s version? Hell, it’s tax deductible.

            • These aren’t questions to ask me. That’s for Kruger to say.

              Personally, I don’t care what kids get paid for their NLIs, or by whom, as long as it’s all out in the open.

              • ASEF

                So no limits as long as the IRS is happy.

                • If I don’t object to what Nike pays Kirby Smart, why should I object to what Nike pays Nick Chubb?

                  • ASEF

                    Or my 501C3 pays Pittman’s top OL targets.

                    Your post infers limits. Just establishing there aren’t any, really.

                    • There are limits, just not the ones you’re thinking of. Even a crazed booster is only going to hand over so much cash for a kid. And I can’t imagine any coach is going to be comfortable with boosters trying to carve out their own little power centers with athletes bypassing the staff’s influence.

                      Life, in other words, will go on. It will just be out in the open.

                    • ASEF

                      Hmm. Kirby’s doing satellite camps he doesn’t want to do because the NCAA couldn’t handle the negative PR of “a kid somewhere might get missed.” You’re even referring to camps as an arms race.

                      I don’t see this any differently. And I’m not saying that means it shouldn’t be done. But we might as well be clear on the consequences.

        • DawgPhan

          basically if they keep the booster rules then it would have to be huge companies like Nike, Under Armour, or disinterested 3rd parties like a sports memorabilia company that has lots of players, but no ties to a school.

          But that would probably mean that nike couldnt enter into deals with Oregon players since Knight would clearly be an Oregon Booster and the UA guys couldnt do Auburn and USC players since I think those guys hail from those schools.

          But the local car dealership in athens where the owner is a season ticket holder couldnt hire UGA players to sign autographs at the dealership.

  8. ApalachDawg

    Well I guess this will bring the rogue boosters out from behind the shadows but again this is nothing new that isn’t already happening today. Star players are already getting paid.
    The Tunsils of the world went off program and decided to go on their own, get some add’l money (free market, why not) & broke the “contract” from the $$$$ they were already getting from coaches/contacts etc.
    All this is going to do is open more issues.
    Kruger is throwing out a recruiting pitch that the AAU told him about…

  9. Cosmic Dawg

    If the only holdup here is that we’re afraid boosters will pay the Tunsils of the world a thousand dollars to mow their grass, let each college’s business school create a “booking agency” for the athletes and come up with rough ranges of fair market value for athletes’ personal appearances and all deals must be approved by them. They are not setting prices, the offers coming in will do that, they’re just making sure the deals are actually legit and public. A 3rd string DT might get to work at a car dealership for $15 an hour.

    The “booking agency” gets to keep 15% for operating costs.

    • Cosmic Dawg

      Also, talk about an incentive to keep your nose clean and play hard….play harder, you get more and better $ through offers for appearances.

      Additionally, think of the networking opportunities it would provide these young men, public speaking / business social experience, etc etc.

      • AusDawg85

        All good and well, but how does everybody feel when 25 different sponsors are paying, and therefore demanding, Nick Chubb’s time during the season?

        • ApalachDawg

          In addition, what if players are represented what happens when super agent talks with Kirby and says “insert star player” isn’t feeling too well and my doctors are saying he shouldn’t play the last half of his junior season – or worse the agent talks to mcgarity…
          This is the road to hell…

          • You don’t think the NFL will be asking questions about “insert star player’s” health in this case? The League asks coaches all sorts of questions about how hard does a particular player work (I think that’s why Nkemdiche slid as far as he did). It would become apparent that the “star player” wasn’t playing because he didn’t want to get hurt. Gurley could have done that after his suspension, but he didn’t. Teams saw that, and I guarantee they gave him credit for it as a “team first” guy after his injury.

        • I dunno – good for him? Keep making that paper?

          I’m pretty sure like any other principal / agent relationship, the agent is directed by the wishes of his client. He can’t just go booking you willy nilly without your consent.

        • Using the extreme doesn’t prove the point. As long as the commitments don’t affect Nick’s academic and athletic commitments, why should it matter if he has 25 sponsors or 1 sponsor? If a college kid has a great idea and gets 25 investors to put money into the idea, we don’t ask the question of whether it interferes with the student’s commitment to get his/her degree. It should be the same for a student-athlete.

          • AusDawg85

            “…as long as the commitments don’t interfere…” LOL! That’s the point. Who is going to control that? When distant cousins are begging for “rent money” who helps guide a star 18 year old to make tough decisions.

            The devil is in the details.

            • That’s why there’s a coach and likely in the new world an agent or business advisor … Sorry, but I don’t see Nick Chubb as a good example to use in this case. You don’t see Tom Brady’s off field commitments interfere with his on field preparations. Why do you seem to have a problem with these guys getting paid?

              • AusDawg85

                So now Kirby has to add policing money and appearance fees/schedules to his duties? Nick is a perfect example as he has the most star power on the UGA squad. Tom Brady is a professional with a multi-million dollar contract and is surrounded by a huge team of professional advisors.

                The problem is not them getting paid, it’s how. The money is already there, but being withheld from the players. Under the current structure, the schools are in a better position to create an administrative process to pay the players. This proposal sends the players out on their own (with minimal guidance) to cut endorsement deals…that’s additional money into the system and I’m sure the schools will try to take a cut of that too.

                When UGA markets #3, #11, #34, etc. then a share of the proceeds should go to the player along with guidance for tax, legal and financial planning issues. The schools owe this to the players for profiting off of their images which they contractually have stolen…err…gained the rights.

                I’m not arguing about the money anymore…the fantasy is over. But I do want to see STUDENT-athletes treated fairly, like STUDENTS, not professional athletes. Then we, the fans, can still pretend we’re watching amateurs compete for the glory of Ol’ U, and not major league lite. At least for a little while longer.

                • These guys are professionals, too, but they aren’t getting market value. Anything the schools propose is going to be designed to minimize the impact to the bottom line and reserve funds (and will probably require an antitrust exemption, too – not likely in today’s political environment).

                  All I’m saying about Kirby’s responsibility will be to set the expectations not to monitor what commitments a player has.

                  I think the long snapper should be able to go get a job to pay expenses or have some walking around money just like any other student can. Right now, a student-athlete can’t even really have a job (by the way, it limits their marketability to many employers because they can’t get internships or get real world work experience).

                  The system is going to change. I used to be one of the romantics who said amateurism was best … Then GurleyGate happened and changed everything for me. The student-athlete deserves the same rights that every other student has on campus.

  10. Who cares about whether student-athletes get paid and the source of funds? Mandate full disclosure, require payment of all taxes due, simplify the rulebook, and punish offenders (both the student-athlete and the institution) for violations. The long snappah typically will be happy to have his scholarship including the COA stipend and free education. The 5-star recruit who pans out will be able to have the money necessary to provide support to his family in addition to living a good life at college.

  11. rocksalt

    My armchair solution has always been that the student and the University enter into a mutual licensing agreement when the student is actually committed to the University. Under this agreement, for example, TGIII is free to associate his name with UGA, the bulldog’s logo, and so-forth and godspeed in his efforts to profit accordingly – and he owes nothing back to UGA. On the same token, UGA is free to associate TGIII’s likeness, number, etc. with the program and profit accordingly – and they owe nothing back to him.

    • That’s exactly what O’Bannon is all about, rocksalt. Right now, it’s only a 1-way street. The universities can profit, but the student-athlete doesn’t get a cut or do the same thing.