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Don’t Forget to Clock In: The Early Good & Bad of Paying College Athletes

Updated: Aug 11, 2022

“Pay him, pay that man his money” the infamous line spoken by Teddy KGB in the movie “Rounders” now applies to college athletes across the country.

July 1 marked the beginning of infinite possibilities and potential consequences for NCAA student-athletes as the organization is going to allow players to profit off their Names, Image and Likeness. This matter has been pressing for quite some time with players even threatening to sit out during the NCAA March Madness Tournament. NCAA president Mark Emmert was able to intervene by sitting down with a few players who had the strongest opinions and beliefs. The two sides came up with an agreement that before the 2021-2022 athletic year began there would be a system in place to empower athletes and grant them opportunities to earn financial gains.

Well here we are, the NCAA held true and now hundreds of athletes across the are doing their best to build a brand and cash in. Olivia Dunne, a gymnast for LSU is one of the biggest superstars of this new era, with a following of over 4.1 million on social media apps such as Tik Tok, Twitter and Instagram launched her campaign with a billboard in Times Square.

Auburn Quarterback Bo Nix signed a deal with “Milo's Tea Company” a popular southern sweet iced tea. His Iron Bowl counterpart, Bama’ QB Bryce Young has made over eight-hundred thousand dollars through various endorsement deals before he’s even started his first game for the Crimson Tide. While it is encouraging to see athletes getting the opportunity to make a buck, where is the line in the sand drawn? One of the biggest counter points that the NCAA has made for years in the fight against paying players is that they wanted the student-athletes to maintain their amateur status. With a Fall sports season right around the corner and coaches and teams with championship aspirations will certainly need to discuss the approach that needs to be had in managing not only school and their sports workload but now all of the sudden their business ventures as well. Getting complete focus from every athlete on the team is a must in order to achieve a common goal in any sport. Will one player's ego grow too large because of the new car he now has or the Rolex on his wrist? For teammates that are not lucky enough to market themselves into some serious cash what will their opinions be of those with new found pocket change.

While coaches and faculty might be weary of the ramifications of the new rule changes, companies such as Icon Source and Barstool Sports amongst several others have jumped at the opportunity to get involved with individual athletes and create their own network of players. Barstool itself is a fascinating case because since their launching of their own sportsbook app in 2019 in conjunction with Penn Gaming they take wagers on all different college sports. With the gambling component being more prominent than ever it has caused some hesitation amongst Athletic Directors across the country when advising athletes where to sign and the potential legal implications that could be investigated by the NCAA.

Another complication of the new rule is the regulations of each school's home state. According to, by September 1, a total states will have signed a bill into law permitting the student athletes to earn their keep. However, some have different stipulations and understanding the revenue and tax reporting will be difficult to monitor. Many believe that this could have a negative effect on where high schoolers decided to take their athletic talents. Instead of looking at the best fit education and athletics wise they will focus on where they can go and get paid. Certainly a lot more will unfold in the months and years to come, but one thing is for certain the piggy banks of most will be a little heavier from now on.

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