Why revenue sharing, collective bargaining must become part of college sports now

On3 imageby:Nick Schultz02/02/24

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Abdy Staples On Why Sharing Money, Collective Bargaining Must Become Part Of College Football Now | 02.02.24

From a legal standpoint, it’s been a turbulent few months for the NCAA, with multiple lawsuits challenging transfer portal and NIL rules. The latest twist might not have come in the courtroom, though, but rather in two conference offices.

Friday, news broke of the Big Ten and SEC’s plan to form a joint advisory group. It will consist of university presidents, chancellors and athletic directors to address “significant challenges” facing college sports, according to the announcement. While NIL and the transfer portal are prominent factors, the ideas of revenue sharing and collective bargaining with athletes have also been talking points around the landscape.

If the advisory group is going to make changes, according to On3’s Andy Staples, those two issues are going to have to be front and center.

“The only way this works – the only way – is if they share the money with the players and if they collectively bargain with the players,” Staples said on Andy Staples On3. “Now, they do not want players to be considered employees, so they’re going to work to find ways to not do that. But they may get forced into that by the courts, anyway.

“So if Greg Sankey and Tony Petitti are smart, which I know they are, they’re looking at potential solutions where they can revenue share with the players, collectively bargain with the players.”

With a CBA, the NCAA wouldn’t go to court ‘over every little rule’

The NCAA’s transfer rules came into question late last year after a lawsuit in West Virginia resulted in a 14-day temporary restraining order that became an preliminary injunction, which allowed athletes who had waivers denied or were waiting on waivers to play immediately. Then, earlier this week, the attorneys general in Tennessee and Virginia filed a suit challenging the NCAA’s NIL rules, particularly related to recruiting.

If the players could collectively bargain, they could have a say in the rules – and, as a result, the legal issues wouldn’t pile up.

“If you have a [collective bargaining agreement], you’re not getting dragged into federal court over every little rule,” Staples said. “You negotiate the rules with the players, the players agree on the rules, you agree on the rules and you have rules. If you want a salary cap, you can do a salary cap. If you want movement rules, transfer rules, you can make those – as long as both parties agree.

“And then if somebody takes them to court, the court’s gonna go, ‘You agreed to this.’ That’s the end of the case, right there.”

What the Big Ten-SEC advisory group could mean for the NCAA

The Big Ten-SEC advisory group could be a landmark moment as the college sports landscape evolves. Those two leagues are viewed as potentially the “top two” conferences in what will be come the Power Four, armed with notable brands and major media rights deals.

As they assess the current climate, the sense is another blow to the NCAA could be coming. In fact, a source told On3’s Eric Prisbell it doesn’t seem like the organization is even calling the shots.

“Given the non-stop judicial threats, the NCAA is no longer in control,” one prominent college sports source told Prisbell on Friday after the announcement. “Membership can no longer legislate for what it believes is best for the overall enterprise, because if it does not work for one institution or one student-athlete, a lawsuit is filed.

“This is no way to manage college athletes.”