What if College Basketball Players were Paid?

Possibly the biggest “what if” in the NCAA at the moment is whether or not college athletes should be paid.

In late October 2019, the NCAA Board of Governors unanimously voted to allow student-athletes to be paid. This includes the likes of using their names, image, and likeness once all three NCAA divisions decide on the rules of opportunities.

These rules must be created by January 2021 following the California ‘Fair Pay to Pay’ Act that would go into effect in 2023. One rule that was made by the NCAA is that college athletes may not be paid if the University or college is paying them directly to attend school.

The plan allows college athletes to receive compensation from social media or personal appearances, as well as businesses that the student-athletes may have started.

It’s not uncommon for some prospects and recruits to be offered money by endorsements or universities in order for that basketball team to recruit them. Most recently, in Zion Williamson’s lawsuit, his step-father solicited and accepted $400,000 from a marketing agent. Last season, Memphis star forward, James Wiseman, was suspended by the NCAA due to a previous donation from current Memphis Head Coach Penny Hardaway. This donation helped with the Wiseman’s moving expenses years ago.
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James Wiseman sitting out during his suspension against Alcorn State.

What would these contracts look like? It depends on the NCAA Division, possibly the school or conference, popularity of the college athlete, and the size of the endorsement or business.

First, there are three Divisions in the NCAA. Obviously, Division One would have the best talent and the most likely to have athletes taking on endorsements from third-parties and the use of a college basketball player’s name or image. The same idea goes with personal appearances. A Division One athlete would be more likely to attract a crowd at an event rather than another Division player.

Another aspect of these contracts could be the conference. An athlete in the “Power Five” may have a higher contract than a college basketball player in a Division One conference outside of the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, SEC, and Pac 12.

A third idea to consider is the popularity of the athlete that would affect their own business or social media page. For example, Zion Williamson had over one million Instagram followers while he was still in High School. If he endorsed a third-party on his social media, he may have a larger contract than other college basketball players on Instagram.

Following the NCAA voting on allowing student-athletes to get paid, there are plenty of different directions this could go and different ingredients to consider prior to having all NCAA Division rules falling in place in January 2021.