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Experts Do Not See Huge Endorsement Windfall

The Dallas News asked around about what type of income a star college football player might receive if the NCAA allowed athletes to have commercial endorsement details. The answer was not entirely positive:

“I don’t think it’s an issue where the sky’s the limit,” said David Carter, the executive director of the USC Marshall Sports Business Institute.

The biggest drawback, Carter and others say, is that even if the NCAA rules ever changed, the athletes would still have to deal with fans’ perception that college is different from the pros.

On top of fans not being ready for college pitchmen, advertisers might not see them as a good fit either:

Steve Rosner, a partner at sports marketing firm 16W Marketing , said many companies might consider college kids too young to be a good fit for many things they’re trying to sell.

“A lot of categories who might be interested in him might be looking for someone with more experience in life in general,” he said.

It adds to a conclusion that athletes would receive substantially less than the $1–2 million/year endorsement deals that top NFL players start at.

This is actually dangerous news for college athletics. Part of the push for athletes being paid is about freedom, rights, and fairness, but it is just as much about athletes receiving “enough”.

The expectation seems to be that a substantial number of football and basketball players would be making above $75,000. That would be necessary under any plan that requires athletes to repay their scholarships before profiting, a common limit. But what if the NCAA let athletes make money off of endorsements but the expected money was not there.

That will not satisfy the portion of pay-for-play advocates focused on whether athletes get enough, either in comparison to revenue and coaches salaries or as an absolute matter. Thus instead of solving the amateurism problem, it could end up causing attention to focus on salaries or revenue sharing for athletes like in the O’Bannon case.

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