Title IX, the federal civil rights law that prohibits sex discrimination in any federally-funded education setting, has been incredibly beneficial to women’s sports, as it requires schools that receive federal funding to have proportional opportunities for men’s and women’s athletics. Opponents of paying players are quick to stoke the fear that ending amateurism would kill Title IX completely, because a university’s entire athletics department budget would concentrate in men’s basketball and football, leaving zero money and resources for anything else. Alternately, some are concerned that if schools were actually forced to pay male and female athletes equally across the board, athletic departments would go broke, and that all college athletics would die an untimely death.
In other words: the women will ruin everything.
Well, friends, I am here to bust this myth. Supporting women’s sports and paying athletes their fair share are not mutually exclusive; in fact, ending amateurism would be a boost for male and female athletes, from revenue and non-revenue sports.
Ending amateurism would benefit both men and women
Fundamentally, ending amateurism does not mean athletic departments will necessarily write fat checks to their athletes. Rather, the NCAA could adopt an amateurism model, which would allow student-athletes to profit off of their likeness, work with sponsors directly, have an agent, get paid for appearances, and other things the NCAA’s ridiculous bylaws currently prohibit.
The NCAA is going to continue to look more and more unreasonable for refusing to even consider adopting an Olympic model approach to student-athlete compensation. I don’t think that will end well, either.