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The Supreme Court, NCAA And The Future Of College Sports

(Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
(Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Remember the EA Sports video game series NCAA Football?

It was hyper-realistic, featuring the heights, weights and jersey numbers of your favorite college players … but no names.

The series stopped publishing in 2014 after a court ruled that the NCAA violated the law by not compensating the real life college athletes.

Now, even bigger changes are on the way. The Supreme Court has ruled that the NCAA can’t bar education-related payments to college athletes.

Some states are going even further — allowing athletes to profit from their name, image and likeness.

Today, On Point: Is this the beginning of the end of amateurism in college sports?

Guests

Dennis Dodd, senior writer at CBS Sports. (@dennisdoddcbs)

Michael McCann, professor and founding director of the Sports and Entertainment Law Institute at the University of New Hampshire School of Law. Legal expert at Sportico. (@McCannSportsLaw)

Also Featured

Margzetta Frazier, UCLA gymnast. 2017-18 U.S. National Team member. All-around silver medalist at the 2018 Birmingham World Cup. (@IAmMargzetta)

Interview Highlights: Margzetta Frazier

MEGHNA CHAKRABARTI: We actually talked to an athlete about what she thinks regarding these major changes that are happening in college athletics. Her name is Margzetta Frazier. She’s a rising senior on the UCLA gymnastics team. She competed for the U.S. women’s national team in 2017 and 2018. And here’s what she says the NCAA’s waiver of those NIL rules mean for her.

MARGZETTA FRAZIER: I had gymnastics companies reach out to me, leotard companies asking me since eighth grade, seventh grade offering to give me free leos to wear. Which I had, of course, say no, because then I would not be able to be a collegiate athlete.

CHAKRABARTI: Of course, that was only the beginning. The NCAA rules have continued to limit Frazier from endorsement opportunities throughout her collegiate career, but with a couple of exceptions. For example, Frazier was speaking to us at Woodward West, where right now she’s currently helping run the gymnastics camp.

FRAZIER: You really got to walk on eggshells, like, yes, I can get paid for this camp. But this camp cannot post me on their social media and say, Hey, Margzetta Frazier is going to be here. Please sign up for our camp. And I can’t post and say, Hey, I’m going to Woodward. Everybody come to Woodward.

CHAKRABARTI: By the way, just to be clear, Margzetta is at Woodward as a camp counselor, being paid as an employee. So that’s why she said she has to walk on eggshells about this, because she also has this bigger life as a well-known gymnast. And more importantly, per NCAA compliance rules, the former U.S. national team gymnast would be paid, not on the basis of her athletic reputation, but as I said, the going rate for camp or clinic counselors. And for most college athletes, including Frazier, there’s another reason these limitations really do matter. Unlike basketball or football, most collegiate sports do not have professional leagues that athletes can move on to, meaning that college may be when these athletes hit their peak name, image and likeness value.

FRAZIER: When you think about your career coming to your last four years, it’s just hard to know in your gut that you’re not going to make anything from all of your hard work. And of course, you have the titles that no one can ever take away from you. But I remember winning bars at the World Cup and getting the silver medal in Birmingham, England. And I believe I won like 11,000 pounds and I don’t know where any of it is. So it sucks to think about. Because you watch your football friends be millionaires and you’re just like, Oh well, this is fun.

CHAKRABARTI: And Margzetta says the reality hits even harder because with over 400,000 combined followers on Instagram and TikTok, she has the kind of social media presence right now that marketing companies crave. But despite missing the opportunity during her first three years in college, and as you heard her say earlier, really since middle school, she says that waving NIL rules has the potential still to impact her life beyond her collegiate career.

FRAZIER: My dream has always been to be in entertainment. And so I am working on music, and I have been thinking about managers and I could not reach out to anyone legally to even ask questions. Because that can be considered an NCAA violation. I could not get beats from producers because that’s also a violation. I couldn’t even really collab with people.

FRAZIER: So now that these rules are being lifted, I can do my craft, how I want to do it, get the professional help I need, and post it and just see how it goes. And I just feel like figuring this out while I have the support of my friends and my team and my family all in one spot would be so much easier to do than scattering after college, trying to figure everything out.

From The Reading List

CBS Sports: “NCAA waiver to effectively allow name, image and likeness rights for athletes near completion” — “The Division I Board of Directors is likely to grant relief from existing regulations that prohibit athletes from benefiting off their name, image and likeness (NIL), creating a ‘bridge’ to July 1 and beyond, sources tell CBS Sports.”

Sportico: “Twelve Big Questions on Alston, NIL And The NCAA’s Next Steps” — “In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruling against the NCAA in the NCAA v. Alston case, which centered on how the NCAA and member schools conspire to limit education-related benefits, and as name, image and likeness statutes in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, New Mexico and Texas take effect on July 1, college sports administrators face the most tumultuous period for the NCAA in decades, if not ever.”

Los Angeles Times: “UCLA stars trying to tap Hollywood, social media and their talent for NIL payday” — “Like he does when he skirts the sideline on one of his long runs, Dorian Thompson-Robinson must step carefully when it comes to his lifestyle clothing brand.”

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.