DES MOINES, Iowa — The NCAA is a billion-dollar industry.
“All this money is going somewhere and most of it goes to college coaches,” said Carlos Acebey, president of ACB Sports Management and Marketing firm in Urbandale.
Tuesday the NCAA announced plans to permit student athletes to profit off their own name, image and likeness as early as 2021.
“In what other area of life can someone not own their own image or be able to profit off their own likeness?” said Todd Blythe, who was one of the most prolific receivers in Iowa State football history.
During Blythe’s time as a student athlete on scholarship, he saw his own jersey for sale at sports stores knowing he would see none of the revenue he helped generate. Blythe said, “As somebody who did look up in the stands and see t-shirts and jerseys with my number on them, it would be great to get a little back pay.”
Acebey, who is also an adjunct professor of sports finance at Simpson College, applauds the NCAA. “They definitely need to be compensated for people taking advantage of them,” he said.
Blythe remembers a problem not unfamiliar with current student athletes, being stranded because he had no money. “Brett Meyer, my old roommate, still teases me about this. There were at least four or five or six times in college where I ran out of gas just driving around Ames or in between Des Moines to Ames and would need to call him or Milan Moses, and they still mess with me about that.”
The University of Iowa athletics department, along with Athletics Director Gary Barta, responded to the news saying, “I`m passionate about preserving the collegiate model. I`m listening and will be fully engaged, but I also know there may be unintended consequences that come with students receiving payments for their name, image and likeness. We have to be able to continue our commitment to education and to maintain a clear difference between professional and college sports.”
The student athletes of all four major universities in Iowa all hold value for their school, but it could differ based on location. Allowing student athletes to profit off their likeness could create an uneven playing field, not based on talent but location. Blythe said, “What program can recruit a kid and offer the best marketing program? We are going to market you and you will be able to make more at our school than you can at that school.”
The NCAA says they want rules that prohibit a student athlete from choosing a school based on money, but others are skeptical. Acebey said, “One company might value a certain athlete at $25,000 for an endorsement where another company might say that athlete is worth $100,000. Does that student athlete choose the larger of the two figures?”
The NCAA wants all three divisions to create new rules beginning immediately but no later than January 2021.