McNeese ponders plan to deal with court ruling
Jim Gazzolo, Special to the American Press
The Supreme Court on Monday trigged yet another earthquake throughout the college athletic landscape.
The highs court ruled that the NCAA could not bar what it called relatively modest payments to student-athletes. That is above the current scholarship money already allowed.
It is the latest blow to the power behind college sports for 115 years. The NCAA has maintained the stance that its players are amateurs and are limited to receiving scholarships for room and board, tuition and books.
Last week, NCAA President Mark Emmert told schools to act on name, image and likeness guidelines or he would. In a memo to 1,200 member schools, Emmer said he will seek temporary rules as early as July to ensure all athletes can be compensated for their celebrity with a host of state laws looming and congressional efforts seemingly stalled.
“By July, all our athletes should be provided NIL opportunities regardless of the state they happen to live in,” Emmert wrote in the memo.
Pressure to change those limits have been growing for years as revenues from television contracts and other areas have skyrocketed. Recently costs of attending college were added to those payments, but that was never explained and are limited to six states. Now it seems the financial cat is out of the bag.
While big schools will likely engage in bidding wars for star athletes, smaller schools will likely pay a price for the Supreme Court’s decision. McNeese State, a school with aspirations of moving up in the college athletic world, will no doubt be affected by the decision.
“I honestly don’t know what it will mean to us,” said McNeese Athletic Director Heath Schroyer. “It shows how fast things are changing in our world and we have to adapt to those changes.”
Mid-majors are just learning how to deal in the world of the new transfer policy, under which athletes are allowed one free move with no year on the sideline like before. That opened the college game to a sort of free agency with players entering the now famous transfer portal. Now comes word that smaller schools could be fleeced after investing a couple years in athletes.
“We have to take a look at all this from about 30,000 feet and see how we can best compete and deal with the changes,” Schroyer said.
Last week he talked about the ability to find new stream of revenues, including the possibility of selling the naming rights to facilities. That is one way other schools of similar size have begun to deal with the increased costs of college athletics.
“Being able to fund raise and find new ways to increase our revenues is important if we want to stay relevent,” Schroyer said. “This (court decision) just adds to that. It has become more problematic and the need and pressure is only athletic departments to find ways to keep up.
“Everybody is on the same page. This is no difference for us to try and find out what exactly is going on and adjust to it.”
Schroyer says what the Supreme Court has done is turn the schools into almost a partnership with players when it comes to sharing the revenue that comes from sports, or at least that will be the likely outcome once the dust settles. And this is just the start. Clearly this is the first of several decisions that are likely going to give more and more financial power to athletes, who can also sell their name, image and likeness, giving bigger programs with larger markets an even greater advantage.
While this has been approved by six state legislatures, more have bills working their way through the system. Louisiana is one of these states.
“Our world and landscape is drastically changing and it is doing so quickly,” Schroyer said. “A lot of this is for the good. Our business model must change with the times and these decisions.
“Coaching today is totally different that it was 10, 15 years ago, even two or three. More change is coming and we have to be ready.”
The groundwork for change may have been seen in the Supreme Court’s decision, which for some didn’t go far enough in opening options for athletes.
In a concurring opinion, Justice Brett Kavanaugh seem to set the tone for such changes and appeared to send a message to the NCAA about future rulings.
“Nowhere else in American can businesses get away with agreeing not to pay their workers a fair market rate on the theory that their product is defined by not paying their workers a fair market rate,” he wrote. “And under ordinary principals of antitrust law, it is not evident why college sports should be any different. The NCAA is not about the law.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story.