The official start of March Madness is days away, after all there are money making conference tournaments to be played. But the games may be secondary to what the NCAA is trying to do which is stop student-athletes from making money off their faces. The NCAA and some college conferences have gone to Washington and spent big money lobbying members of Congress to see the NCAA’s side of the issue. The NCAA wants Congress to step in and stop the student-athletes making money off of their likeness madness. There is some romantic notion that these young adults are playing for the love of the game and should be satisfied with a scholarship that might enable them to get a college degree if they put the time and effort into getting one. But student-athletes are athletes first and students second.
The NCAA met with the Department of Justice in November 2019, a kind of getting to know you meeting, where the NCAA brass tried to explain that they run an amateur show. The NCAA claims it is not professional sports. But there is a problem with that. More than a billion dollars flows into the industry annually. College sports is big business particularly March Madness which in reality is just television programming with Turner Sports and CBS paying the NCAA an enormous amount of money. No one would watch these games without performing student-athletes who are forced to keep up the pretense of amateurism. Everyone gets paid except the student-athletes. The NCAA is plotting to change its rules and is annoyed that California beginning in 2023 is allowing student-athletes to sell their images and their faces to advertisers. Other states plan to follow California’s lead. The NCAA lobbyists are trying to get favors from Congress to make sure student-athletes make no money from selling their faces to marketing partners.