Dot’s Reading Room – April  9  

April 9, 2024

March Madness is over, but the question of paying college athletes has been an issue for decades. A February ruling by the National Labor Relations Board ruled that the Dartmouth College’s men’s basketball team could vote to form a union, the first time a labor union would consist of athletes. The college plans to appeal the ruling (New York Times, Feb. 6, 2024).

Here’s the headline of an April 5 article in The Conversation:

“College athletes still are not allowed to be paid by universities − here’s why.” Cyntrice Thomas, a professor of Sport Management at the University of Florida and also a lawyer explains that since 2021, student athletes have been able to pursue endorsement deals (NIL – name, image, likeness), but can’t receive compensation for their athletic skills. What stands in the way?

“NCAA rules are the main obstacle.”

Not long after it was formed in 1906, the NCAA prohibited schools from compensating student-athletes for their athletic ability. In 1948, the NCAA adopted the Sanity Code, which also prohibited athletic scholarships for students who couldn’t demonstrate financial need or economic hardship.

“The organization began to allow athletic scholarships in 1956 without regard to financial need. But that was limited to tuition, room and board, and books.”

“Most recently, in 2021, the Supreme Court ruled in NCAA v. Alston that colleges must be allowed to compensate students for education-related expenses up to $5,980 annually. 

“NCAA rules negatively affected competition because schools could offer only up to the cost of attendance in scholarships – not additional incentives that may attract student-athletes.”

For an in-depth look at this perennial question about “pay for play,” here is the link:

For more on this, consider the case of Southern Methodist University, which was severely penalized by the NCAA in 1987 for its practice of enticing outstanding student athletes to its football program by giving them expensive cars and other perks. For this transgression, the NCAA shut down SMU’s football program for two years and its reputation was tarnished. Now, decades later, SMU has been allowed to join the Atlantic Conference League.

“How SMU, once the rogue of college sports, got back into the big time,” published in the New York Times on March 30. (Unfortunately this article is behind a paywall.)

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