The NCAA’s announcement today about athletes being allowed to profit from their image, name or likeness is going to change college sports dramatically, whether you like it or not.
Competitive balance, a critical element to any competition, is likely going to disappear.
The teams you watch every week on national television will become even more dominant because of the exposure they get. And the players on those teams will likely be the ones landing the big-time endorsements -- which will lead their colleges to being able to continually recruit the best players, because it’s where they can go to make the most money.
That goes for football and basketball, maybe even some of the other sports if high-profile, Olympic athletes are involved.
Imagine football programs such as Alabama, LSU, Clemson and Notre Dame players -- maybe someday even USC players, because of market size -- being allowed to have personal endorsements.
They could become rich even before they enter the pros.
How is a kid playing at Oregon State or Washington State going to be able to make any money endorsing big-ticket items? He or she might get a local burger chain, but not McDonald’s or Burger King, where the big money will be. And yes, I'm sure Duck fans are thinking about Nike endorsement deals for their players, but I'd be surprised if the NCAA doesn't exclude sneaker and apparel companies with connections to colleges from those deals.
The real money isn't in selling autographed pictures or making appearances at some retail store.
Someday will we be seeing college football’s next Joe Burrow endorsing Porsche? Or Rolex? And getting those products for free?
This could possibly even drain some of the ad dollars the schools themselves have been earning, as it goes to athletes rather than the institutions.
I know, it sounds crazy, but college sports have gotten out of hand over the years and I wouldn’t be surprised if this opens the floodgates.
College basketball is quickly going to have to adjust to the idea that high school kids heading to the G-League rather than college will become more common -- even endorsement deals can’t match those G-League stipends.
College basketball has been on life support for years and could be near death with the NBA now funneling high-school players to its G-League. Will people still watch college basketball if all the superstars head straight to the pros? In some hotbeds, yes. But the sport is going to have to be marketed much better than it is now to make that happen nationally.
And the NCAA enforcement division is weak. Violations will probably be rampant. There aren’t enough investigators to do the job now, let alone in the future. The media has always been the investigators, uncovering violations for the NCAA.
It’s going to be great for the athletes, but chaos for the NCAA.