You may think this was the end to something that wasn’t fair…
The monetary value of a college athlete’s name, image and likeness is being hashed out in court, but many universities have already arrived at a figure: zero.
Colleges from the Big Ten to the Mid-American Conference ask or require athletes sign waivers giving up their publicity rights without compensation, even as college sports generate billions of dollars in TV contracts and merchandise sales. The media deal for March Madness alone is worth $771 million a year.
Under pressure from a lawsuit claiming it took financial advantage of players, college sports’ governing body, the NCAA, got rid of a similar waiver last year…
Donald Remy, the organization’s chief legal officer, told the Tribune that the wording had nothing to do with publicity rights and was eliminated “to avoid confusion among student-athletes and their families.”
… but it wasn’t. The NCAA just outsourced it back to the schools and conferences.
The Big Ten created a waiver in 2007, the year it launched the Big Ten Network. The form states that neither the athlete nor his heirs are entitled to compensation for letting the network and other broadcasters use his name and image. The conference earned $318 million in the 2012-13 tax year, according to its IRS filing.
Bidness is bidness. Even for the little guys.
Schools that compete on a less lucrative rung of college sports are coming up with waivers, too. In August, just before announcing a new TV rights deal with ESPN, MAC Commissioner Jon Steinbrecher sent an email to his member schools saying an attorney was developing a release in consultation with the Big Ten and the SEC.
The document, obtained from Northern Illinois University, is even more stringent than what the bigger conferences created. It calls for athletes to give up rights to their names and images, forever and without compensation, for any purpose the MAC and its member schools see fit, including broadcasts by ESPN and ABC. Signing the form is mandatory.
MAC spokesman Ken Mather said in an email that the waiver “filled the void” when the NCAA eliminated its version last year. He did not respond to a request for further information.
I guess the MAC doesn’t want to be left out of the litigation fun either.