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The NCAA’s Existential Question: Can You Pay Players and Still Call Them Amateurs?

Jan 20, 2024

On Monday, in a conference room in Los Angeles, a National Labor Relations Board trial will resume, with the goal of resolving whether college athletes should be considered employees—the existential question of NCAA sports.

The trial is one of the many places where the debate over the future of amateurism is playing out across the country. Pressure to label collegiate athletes professionals is mounting through other National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) cases and multiple federal cases. The NCAA, meanwhile, is battling in Congress (most recently in a hearing on Thursday) to pass a law preventing those athletes from attaining employee status. The collegiate governing body is even facing criticism from some of its most high-profile constituents, like Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh, who argued after winning the national championship that athletes should get a share of revenue and the right to unionize. Ohio State’s new athletic director, Ross Bjork, echoed some of Harbaugh’s comments on Wednesday.

Amid all the noise, NCAA President Charlie Baker is trying to appease all sides with a new athlete-pay proposal. But it may not be enough to stop momentum toward an employment model.

Source: Front Office Sports

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