Hey, remember the good ol’ days when the NCAA predicted an apocalypse was imminent?
The NCAA, in the groundbreaking O’Bannon v. NCAA case, opposed the granting of NIL rights because it was “necessary to preserve the amateur tradition and identity of college sports.” Its chief legal counsel, Donald Remy, declared it a “scheme” that “threatens college sports as we know it.”
NCAA president Mark Emmert testified during the trial that NIL would “be tantamount to converting [college sports] into minor league sports and we know that in the U.S. minor league sports aren’t very successful either for fan support or for the fan experience.”
In the separate NCAA v. Alston case, attorney Seth Waxman argued to the Supreme Court that “the cost of labor” was a “differentiating feature” for college sports. Without it, he said, interest would decrease.
Waxman even cited an NCAA-funded study that “tested people’s reaction to giving [athletes] … a $10,000 academic award [which concluded that] something like 10% of the respondents said they would be less interested and would watch less if that’s the case.”
How’s that working out so far?
Last Saturday, some 90,887 fans packed Ben Hill Griffin Stadium to watch the Florida Gators play the Alabama Crimson Tide. It was the fifth-largest home crowd in UF history.
Across the country, 7.9 million tuned into the CBS broadcast, which is 10% higher than the 2019 average of 7.1 million for the network, which itself was the highest in nearly three decades.
That’s one game, of course, but just hours later 109,958 people saw Penn State defeat Auburn in person while 7.6 million watched on ABC. A week prior, Oregon-Ohio State put up 100,482 and 7.73 million, respectively. The week before that Clemson-Georgia delivered 8.8 million television viewers and Notre Dame-Florida State got 7.6 million…
ABC said its daylong Week 3 programming was the most watched for that week since 2016. Across all networks, it took 11 weeks during the 2019 season to produce three broadcasts with at least 7.5 million viewers. This season has already delivered five such games, plus six more with audiences of 4-plus million.
No doubt this is all about to come to a crashing halt once it really sinks in with the viewing public that these games are being played by college athletes who are getting paid for their social media presence. Ah, if only we could return to simpler times when nobody but college administrators were allowed to cash in, all in the name of doing it for the kids.