With the massive business college athletics has become and recent court decisions, we are soon likely to be entering the era of paying student-athletes.
However, the questions of how to rightfully compensate student-athletes while still maintaining their amateur status provides one logical solution; the trust fund plan.
The trust fund plan is simple. The NCAA will establish a fund and require schools to pool a set amount of money based on licensing of athlete names and likenesses. Each student-athlete will receive a set amount of money based on the revenue his/her sport brings in contingent on the student-athlete graduating. If a student-athlete decides to enter the draft or otherwise exit early, then he/she will not receive their allotment fo the trust fund. The reason this money is contingent on graduating is to instill the academic mission, something the NCAA has been struggling to encourage with this new emerging model.
In this plan, it does not matter if you are the star player or the last player on the bench. Each student-athlete will receive the same amount of money from the NCAA managed trust fund. The reason is to eliminate any unfairness of compensation between teammates. All student-athletes go through the same rigorous schedule of intense practices and frequent games.
The money is distributed in terms of equity. A student-athlete may receive more money if his/her sport generates more revenue. For example, men’s basketball programs may provide more money for their student-athletes than men’s football because men’s basketball generates more revenue per capita than football does.
Another reason why this plan could work is that it eliminates any chance of bidding wars for recruiting top talent to occur. Student-athletes either receive the money after they have graduated or see none of it at all. This plan is designed to give no edge to competing schools.
Critics may say that this plan does not provide the immediate financial support that student athletes are currently yearning for. That is true. But with more NCAA policy reform directing to give student-athletes more benefits (unlimited meals, cost-of-living stipends, etc.) and loosening restrictions for them to be able to make their own money, we can implement that immediate support along with compensating for their four years of dedication to the university.
I believe that this plan will not only provide the monetary balance that college athletics has been searching for, but also increase graduation rates among student-athletes. The trust fund plan addresses the issues that have been caused through the enormous growth of college athletics.
Student-athletes would receive money for their labor while doing what being a college athlete is all about, getting an education. With this plan, we address the biggest issue in college athletics as well as making the phrase “student comes first” true again.