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OPINION | WALLY HALL: NCAA has questions left to be answered

by Wally Hall | June 22, 2021 at 2:03 a.m.

For 115 years, student-athletes were not allowed to be paid.

At least not above the table.

Now comes the Supreme Court, with a 9-0 vote, saying that is unfair and unjust, and that as long as the student is making academic progress they deserved to be paid.

Monday's decision by the Supremes was a slap in the face to the NCAA.

Justice Neil Gorsuch delivered the opinion which allows schools to provide their athletes with unlimited compensation as long as it is some way connected to their education.

"The NCAA is not above the law," Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote. "The NCAA couches its arguments for not paying student athletes in innocuous labels. But the labels cannot disguise the reality: The NCAA's business model would be flatly illegal in almost any other industry in America."

It was the first time since 1985 the Supremes were involved in college athletics.

It is hard to wrap your head around how this is all going to work.

How do you tell an offensive lineman he's not worth as much as the running back he is opening running holes for, or the tight end isn't worth as much as the defensive end?

How many schools can pay players and survive?

How will it affect basketball programs like Kentucky and Duke who thrive off one-and-done players.

According to a story on the Kentucky website, at the beginning of the 2019-20 NBA season 29 players, including two-way or inactive status, from UK were on league rosters.

Duke was second with 25.

The story went on to say 28 of those were coached by John Calipari including Derrick Rose and they had $2.26 billion in career NBA contracts.

Someone might suggest to the Supremes those players were taught all they needed to know, most of them in one season, to be successful in life.

Still, change is coming. The Supremes said so and there is no appeal to their decisions.

And Congress is all worked up about NIL, which sounds like a cruise line but stands for Name, Image and Likeness, for which someday soon athletes can also be paid for.

I've always thought players deserved something more, and the idea of paying the players has escalated since coaches started getting multi-million dollar contracts.

The argument is if Alabama can afford to pay Nick Saban $8 million every year, why can't it pay its athletes. And why if Saban can pick up some spare change doing commercials for an insurance company, why can't a player.

The problem is not every school can afford a millionaire coach.

Arkansas Baptist had to raise $10,000 to apply to join the NAIA. As a four-year college they could no longer compete on the junior college level.

The school, which was approved almost immediately by the NAIA, is educating students just like the bigger and richer schools.

Decisions about paying players and NIL will be made far above my pay grade, and should be.

Harvard, the richest school in the country with more than $38 billion in endowments, could afford anything it wants, but most likely will still emphasize academics over athletics in every form or fashion.

However, Texas is the second most wealthy school with more than $30 billion in endowments and that should scare the sage stuffing out of all the other schools who take their athletics too seriously.

College athletics is changing and it is happening fast.

The folks running college athletics are being watched very closely by the Supreme Court and Congress, and the decision makers seem to have one chance to get it right.

Print Headline: NCAA has questions left to be answered


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