NO PAY, NO PLAY
No more debate. No more discussion. It's time to setup the smartest plan for college athlete compensation.
Monday, October 14, 2019
Strategy #1: All for one, one for all
It took me roughly five years to move from one side of the arc to the other on this issue, but I'm here; I've arrived; and quite frankly, I've had it. There is no doubt in my mind, given the risk / reward opportunity in play, that the market doesn't have it right in regards to college athlete compensation. We're far from equilibrium. And, as far as I'm concerned, the debate's about over. It's in its twilight. What we've seen happen to multiple big-time college athletes losing the opportunity to have a well-compensated start to their career, and in many cases, a career at all, is reason enough to seek compensation for playing. When Duke-now-Pels's all-star once-in-a-generation power forward Zion Williamson's shoe splitting apart and causing a game-ending knee injury against NC State, it brought my disdain for the college sports environment to "code red" levels.
So let's talk resolution. Let's discuss the ways in which we could sensibly compensate college athletes. The first thing you're dealing with is various economies of scale; a D1 MAAC athlete riding the bench for their lacrosse team may be compensated differently than a point guard at Kentucky. Additionally, you're dealing with different talent and skill levels, public and private institutions, and college budgets that can sway from losing money on college athletics to serving as a major profit center for the overall institution.
I have two pathways. Let's be clear; we can only argue for what we think is practical in this space. So I may not be able to move the needle for division two and division three college athletes. But I can provide compensation assurances for all division one college athletes, and that's where we'll begin.
Compensate all division one college athletes, both private and public, with an emphasis on students in the mid-tier and lower tier athletic programs: On average, compensation represents 17% of an overall budget for businesses and organizations. For both public and private institutions, in addition to free tuition, 9% of the overall budget (half of average compensation in the US on average) should be divided up to all college athletes in an equal split as a "reimbursement" for their contribution to the health of their college's particular athletic program. For example, let's say a College's athletic program has an overall budget of $5MM. $450K is there to be split for each student athlete.
Compensate high-producing athletic talents (should take place simultaneously alongside strategy 1): Allow these students to market themselves! Endorsement deals. Percentage on jersey sales. Shoe contracts. Television, digital video and social media advertisements. I can't even tell you how lucrative a Zion Williamson branded sneaker (no irony intended) could be valued at. Allow them to negotiate, and start the floor at something like 2% or 3% of sales with products bearing their name.
This is how college athletics needs to operate in 2019. It's more than just an insurance policy should a college athlete face a career ending injury; it's what's fair. It's a well-balanced approaching to solving a problem that should have been solved decades ago.