How much are col­lege ath­letes’ names, images worth?

The Korea Times - - SPORTS -

How much are a col­lege ath­lete’s name, im­age and like­ness worth? And who would want to pay for them?

The ques­tions are front and cen­ter now that the NCAA, pres­sured by in­di­vid­ual states that have started act­ing on their own, has taken a ma­jor step to­ward al­low­ing ath­letes to make money off their fame.

De­cid­ing to re­verse the prohibitio­n on earn­ing money was the easy part; de­ter­min­ing how much ath­letes can make, un­der what cir­cum­stances and in a way that doesn’t per­mit abuses are big­ger chal­lenges that won’t be as sim­ple to re­solve.

What­ever they come up with, op­por­tu­ni­ties to earn huge sums of money could very well be the ex­cep­tion, not the rule, ac­cord­ing to those who ob­serve and work in the mar­kets.

The board of gov­er­nors for the na­tion’s largest gov­ern­ing body met Tues­day and set a Jan­uary 2021 dead­line to have rules and reg­u­la­tions finalized across three di­vi­sions cov­er­ing more than 1,100 schools and 460,000 ath­letes.

Law­mak­ers in Cal­i­for­nia and other states would like to lift all re­stric­tions, let­ting the free mar­ket de­cide. But NCAA lead­ers, con­cerned about pos­si­ble cor­rup­tion and the use of en­dorse­ment deals to lure top re­cruits, are likely to take a far more cau­tious ap­proach.

“It’s re­ally hard to play the spec­u­la­tion game as to what an ath­lete would be worth in the world the NCAA is en­vi­sion­ing be­cause as best I can tell, their an­nounce­ment essen­tially said that they will treat ath­letes like other stu­dents — ex­cept when they won’t,” said Andy Sch­warz, an econ­o­mist who helped craft the Cal­i­for­nia bill signed into law last month that helped push the NCAA to­ward rewrit­ing its reg­u­la­tions.

There are some who be­lieve there is a po­ten­tial to un­lock real riches — if the ath­letes can some­how get or­ga­nized.

Ear­lier this week, the NFL Play­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion an­nounced a partnershi­p with the Na­tional Col­lege Play­ers As­so­ci­a­tion, an ad­vo­cacy group with no power to formally or­ga­nize ath­letes as a union. The goal, ac­cord­ing to NCPA ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Ramogi Huma, is for the NFLPA’s li­cens­ing com­pany to pur­sue op­por­tu­ni­ties for large num­bers of play­ers.

At the top of the wish list: get­ting play­ers a piece of the bil­lions be­ing paid by tele­vi­sion net­works to the NCAA and con­fer­ences for the rights to tele­vise games.

That might seem far-fetched, but when the NCAA was sued in 2014 by for­mer UCLA basketball star Ed O’Ban­non, at­tor­neys for the plain­tiffs ar­gued that name, im­age and like­ness rights ex­tended to tele­vi­sion broad­casts.

“There’s no dif­fer­ence in name, im­age and like­ness rights, whether they are for in­di­vid­ual en­dorse­ments of the product or ap­pear­ance in a broad­cast,” said Michael Haus­feld, the lead at­tor­ney in the O’Ban­non case. (AP)

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