Baltimore Sun

Athletes working to gain leverage

- By Ryan McFadden

INDIANAPOL­IS — In the ever-changing landscape of college athletics, student-athletes want a bigger voice.

Led by Penn State quarterbac­k Sean Clifford, Big Ten Conference players have reportedly had discussion­s with league commission­er Kevin Warren about improving benefits for players, including post-career medical care and a share of future revenue.

During Warren’s 45-minute news conference at Big Ten Media Days on Tuesday — which highlighte­d conference realignmen­t,

name, image and likeness benefits and a new media rights deal — he said the league is creating a Big Ten Student-Athlete Advisory and Advocacy Committee with the goal of allowing student-athletes to address their concerns, such as the idea of sharing media rights revenue.

“I’ve already started some dialogue with

our student-athletes,” Warren said from a podium inside Lucas Oil Stadium. “We’re going to amplify that committee here quickly. I want to hear it from them. I want to be a great listener to figure out what is important to them. It’s so easy to talk about money and share money, but what does that mean? I want to make sure that I listen and learn to be able to have big ears and a small mouth to truly understand what’s important to them.”

In 2017, the Big Ten signed a six-year, $2.64 billion media deal with ESPN and Fox Sports that’s set to expire in 2023. Warren said the Big Ten is in the process of finalizing a new media deal and an announceme­nt could happen “sooner rather than later.”

According to Front Office Sports, the league’s broadcast value could be worth between $1.1 billion to $1.25 billion per year after the addition of Southern California and UCLA, who are set to join the league in 2024.

Maryland junior wide receiver Rakim Jarrett, a former five-star prospect and two-time All-Big Ten honorable mention, said revenue sharing with players in college football is “long overdue.” He said players should be getting paid for performing in front of fans and working behind the scenes to stay on top of their responsibi­lities as student-athletes.

On Tuesday, Maryland athletic director Damon Evans told The Baltimore Sun “never say never” in regards to the idea of student-athletes getting a share of the media revenue.

“You don’t know what’s going to happen in this business,” Evans said. “We’re going to continue to look at what we can do to enhance the benefits that we provide the student-athletes. Whether that’s additional medical care [and] mental health services. Those are things we need to look at first, then we evolve from there.”

Even though Terps coach Mike Locksley said talks about revenue share are “above his pay grade,” he wants players to make as much money as possible. He said he supports the league’s student-athlete advisory committee, calling it a “step in the right direction.”

“I just think in this day and age, that’s how you raise kids, you have to give them opportunit­ies to voice their opinion,” he said.

Jarrett said he is aware of Big Ten players talking to Warren, but he has not had discussion­s with Clifford or other league players. However, he thinks players speaking up for improved benefits is important.

“The more benefits a player has, the better,” he said. “You never know when this game may be taken away from you, so I think it’s good that players are allowed to speak up now and have their own voice to say what we want and what we need.”

The announceme­nt of the advisory committee comes after the College Football Players Associatio­n (CFBPA) approached Warren with a list of demands, such as having a representa­tive on each campus who advocates for players during medical situations or other disputes; post-football health protection­s; and players receiving a percentage of the media rights revenue.

The CFBPA was founded in 2021 to organize players to have a collective voice in the decision-making within their sport. However, executive director Jason Stahl, a former professor at the University of Minnesota, said the CFBPA doesn’t classify itself as a union. In 2014, an attempt by Northweste­rn football players to unionize was ultimately unsuccessf­ul after the National Labor Relations Board declined to rule on the case.

“I think this has been kind of looming for a while now,” Clifford told ESPN earlier this week. “It isn’t as crazy a concept as it was in 2014. Players have rights in the way of name, image and likeness. Now it’s about having a seat at the table with the billion-dollar deals and saying, ‘Hey, we would like to talk about what we can do here.’ ”

Warren has spoken with Stahl but has not had any negotiatio­ns with the CFBPA and currently doesn’t plan to do so. He said he’s focused on developing the Big Ten’s student-athlete advisory committee.

“We continue to work with our member institutio­ns to ensure our student-athletes have an outstandin­g and well-rounded experience while promoting and safeguardi­ng the mission of higher education, and prioritizi­ng excellence and integrity in both academics and athletics,” he said.

 ?? AP ?? Maryland junior wide receiver Rakim Jarrett said revenue sharing with players in college football is “long overdue.”
AP Maryland junior wide receiver Rakim Jarrett said revenue sharing with players in college football is “long overdue.”

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