Who will decide the future of college sports?
Good morning, and thanks for spending part of your day with Extra Points.
Earlier this week, friends of the newsletter Nicole Auerbach and Stewart Mandelof The Athletic wrote a detailed story on the uncertain future of college football governance.
The two talk to many administrators and industry experts who echoed the similar concerns that I heard at the LEAD1 meetings two weeks ago. College sports, and particularly college football, has become too large and too complicated of a business to exist in its current governance system. The status quo is coming under fire from lawmakers, from the court system, from other schools, from athlete-rights advocates, and many other stakeholders...and new models are needed.
In the story, a few industry sources are quoted as potentially being interested in some sort compensation compromise...where athletes could enjoy more direct financial compensation from institutions, without being classified as employees:
Two FBS athletic directors toldThe Athletic the solution to the athlete compensation puzzle might lie in licensing. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the topic and because no such formal proposals have been put forth in their respective conferences or from any NCAA governing board. Perhaps, they said, a school could sign a licensing deal with its athletes similar to NIL deals to pay them to represent the athletic department without the athletes themselves becoming formal employees.
Outgoing NCAA president Mark Emmert himself floated a similar idea, terming it a “brand ambassador model,” during a recent interview with business reporter Kristi Dosh at the University of Florida.
“Especially with the size of media contracts that are being created right now, there needs to be recognition of the brand building value, for the school itself, of the athletes,” Emmert said during the event’s Q&A portion. “Finding a way to provide money to athletes, not as employees but as these basically brand ambassadors, that are gauged to the marketing power of individual sports … Universities may not love it, but I think it works.”
It might! There are legitimate legal considerations (is this something that complies with Title IX? Or Title VII?), as well as logistical and financial hurdles, but I think it is one potential version of what big time college sports looks like in say, 2030.
The bigger question to me personally is less what will the future of college sports look like and more who will actually decide what the future looks like? Every AD and president knows that the court system, either via Johnson or other cases, could smash the current college athletics governance structure with a sledgehammer. Lawmakers, at either the state or federal level, could become even more involved. Shoot, two very powerful ones in the Senate proposed a pretty significant rule just yesterday.
There is probably time for current coaches and administrators to have a huge say in charting the future, but they're running out of time. Even if current ADs and conference leaders actually have good ideas about how to govern this in increasingly unwieldly mess, it'll become moot if the government beats them to it.
If you'd like to hear a few of those leaders articulate what they think is important for college sports 3.0, you're in luck. I have a boatload of interviews up, for free, on Collegiate Sports Connect. I'll share two here below, though.
Here I am talking to UNLV Erik Harper, who I think shared a really interesting story about "pouring into" one of the athletes in his department, preparing her for a career in college sports once she's done playing.
and here I am talking to Syracuse AD John Wildhack, about the projects he's most excited about on campus right now, the 'college' part of college athletics, and more:
It was a useful event! If you're interested in big-picture governance questions, I think you'll enjoy these conversations.
If you're not, that's okay! I've got something else for you to watch. In our latest Going For Two, Bryan and I dug into the Georgia Tech opening(s).
In this show, Bryan and I talk about, among other things:
- Georgia Tech's last coaching administration sought to really focus on building a brand. Was their idea wrong, or just the execution?
- Is this a good athletic director job? What does alignment between a future AD, coach and president actually mean?
- Why both of us are skeptical Deion Sanders is the best coach for what Georgia Tech likely needs right now
- What are reasonable football expectations for Georgia Tech in 2023?
- Ah hell, who even makes a good football coach anyway?
You can watch all of our Going For Two episodes here on YouTube, or subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.
You can also check out our newest podcast sponsor, Meet At Midfield, right here. Use promocode EXTRA to save 10% and let 'em know that we sent you.
Here's what else we've cooked up this week
- Hey, remember how Middle Tennessee beat Miami last weekend? Turns out, the Blue Raiders are now 3-0 against the Hurricanes. That inspired me to look up the funniest teams each P5 program has never actually beaten. Lots of teams need to schedule some YMCAs to regain their honor, IMO.
- I interviewed several athletes across the A-10, as well as their commissioner, to better understand what sort of NIL opportunities actually exist right this second for athletes of that level of fame, and what they're hoping to learn and do next.
- I also shared why I'm pretty skeptical of player-lead 'NIL Clubs' being a sustainable and successful thing, and why my experience running Extra Points makes me especially skeptical of many related NIL firms. These aren't just NIL problems, but 'Creator Economy' problems, an industry that I think includes a lot of NIL related activity.
- Finally, I also updated the EA Sports Audio Tracker to include submissions from LSU (sadly, no Neck), Ohio State, Jacksonville State, and more. I'm calling around next week to hopefully get more data. ADs, if you're reading this...again, my email is [email protected]
You can get every single Extra Points newsletter, support our ability to pay for freelancers, travel and sales specialists, and get some free stickers, all by upgrading to a paid subscription.
There are hundreds of old Extra Points newsletters now, many of which are still evergreen and newsworthy. There's easily a book's worth of content there. Speaking of which...I should probably get back to that.
Thanks for reading and for supporting our sponsors. I'll see you on the internet next week.
This Extra Points newsletter is brought to you in part by Important, Not Important.
Science for people who give a shit! The critically-acclaimed and “refreshingly snarky” newsletter and podcast help you think deeply and act decisively about the world’s make or break science news, from climate to COVID, heat to hunger, and agriculture to AI ethics. Subscribe for free!
This Extra Points newsletter is also brought to you in part by Morning Brew
2.6 million people wake up to this newsletter every morning. There's a reason over 2.6 million people start their day with Morning Brew - the daily email that delivers the latest news from Wall Street to Silicon Valley. Business news doesn't have to be dry and dense...make your mornings more enjoyable, for free. Check it out!
To sponsor a future Extra Points newsletter, please email [email protected]rapointsmb.com. For article ideas, newsletter feedback, FOIA tips, athlete NIL sponsorships and more, I'm at [email protected], or @MattBrownEP on Twitter, and @ExtraPointsMB on Instagram.