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Autonomy; O’Bannon and the future of CU athletics

Discussion in 'CU Buffs Newsroom' started by RSSBot, Aug 9, 2014.

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    By Stuart


    [h=3]Autonomy for the Power-Five Conferences; O’Bannon v. NCAA; and their effect on CU athletics[/h]–
    It was a hectic – and perhaps historic – week for inter-collegiate athletics.
    First, the NCAA Division 1*Board of Directors, on a 16-2 vote, adopted a new governance model, which had been proposed to member institutions last month. This movement by the NCAA paves the way for major athletic departments within the Power Five conferences — the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC — to provide increased benefits to student-athletes. Then, a federal Judge in Oakland ruled in the O’Bannon v. NCAA trial,*holding that NCAA’s rules prohibiting athletes from being paid for use of their names, images and likeness violate antitrust law because they “unreasonably restrain trade.”
    Neither decision will go into effect immediately, and both decisions still have a great deal of wrangling and amending to go through before schools and their fans will know exactly what to expect for their teams going forward.
    But the*tectonic plates of collegiate athletics are shifting, and it begs the question:
    How will all of this affect our Buffs?
    The Decisions
    Power-Five Conference Autonomy
    The vote by the NCAA Board of Directors vote gives the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC’s member institutions the ability to provide never-before-seen benefits to its athletes in conjunction with their scholarship agreements. The move for autonomy for the Power Five comes on the heels of months of discussions about the full cost of athlete attendance and a possible secession from Division I athletics.
    “I am immensely proud of the work done by the membership,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said in a statement issued by the organization. “The new governance model represents a compromise on all sides that will better serve our members and, most importantly, our student-athletes. These changes will help all our schools better support the young people who come to college to play sports while earning a degree.
    The power conferences have until Oct. 1 to create a list of issues they want to handle on their own. Items on that list will need to be approved by three of the five power-conference reps and 12 of the 20 presidents or chancellors on the expanded board of directors.
    In addition to calculating full cost of attendance for scholarships, other potential items to be explored by the Power Five include expansion of healthcare for student-athletes, money for continuing education and four-year guaranteed scholarships.
    The conferences could begin submitting legislation in October and passing it in January 2015. The earliest legislation could become effective would be for the 2015-16 academic year.
    (The full release by the NCAA can be read here)
    O’Bannon v. NCAA
    In a 99-page opinion, U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken issued an injunction that will prevent the NCAA “from enforcing any rules or bylaws that would prohibit its member schools and conferences from offering their FBS football or Division I basketball recruits a limited share of the revenues generated from the use of their names, images and likenesses in addition to a full grant-in-aid.” Wilken said the injunction will not prevent the NCAA from implementing rules capping the amount of money that may be paid to college athletes while they are enrolled in school, but the NCAA will not be allowed to set the cap below the cost of attendance.
    The injunction will also prohibit the NCAA from “enforcing any rules to prevent its member schools and conferences from offering to deposit a limited share of licensing revenue in trust for their FBS football and Division I basketball recruits, payable when they leave school or their eligibility expires,” Wilken wrote.
    In a partial victory for the NCAA, though, Wilken said it could set a cap on the money paid to athletes for use of their names and images, as long as it allows for no less than $5,000 per athlete per year of competition for players at big football and basketball schools. Individual schools could offer less money, she said, but only if they don’t unlawfully conspire among themselves to set those amounts.
    That means Football Bowl Subdivision players and Division I basketball players who are on rosters for four years potentially could get no less than $20,000 when they leave school. Wilken said she set the $5,000 annual threshold to balance the NCAA’s fears about huge payments to players.
    “The NCAA’s witnesses stated that their concerns about student-athlete compensation would be minimized or negated if compensation was capped at a few thousand dollars per year,” Wilken wrote.
    The compensation will be paid into a trust fund. However, if a school does not try to sell anything with the players’ names, images and likenesses, there will be no money to pay into the trust fund. A player then would be limited to his cost-of-attendance scholarship.
    Any payments to athletes would not be immediate. The ruling said regulations on pay will not take effect until the start of the next FBS football and Division I basketball recruiting cycle. Wilken said they will not affect any prospective recruits before July 1, 2016.
    (The full 99-page decision by Judge Wilken can be read here)
    The*Reactions
    Power-Five Conference Autonomy
    There are more than 300 schools in Division I, and perhaps a quarter of them have the money to increase benefits. So the big schools remained constrained by the small — a majority vote in the name of competitive equity.
    “That sort of equity is largely a mirage,” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said this past week in New York. He spoke as a panelist in a two-hour discussion, sponsored by the conference, of the state of intercollegiate athletics. “There’s always been some separation. This may contribute to some additional separation, although the rules and any changes that might be made are intended to be permissive. But they’re also intended to take into account that those 65 schools are largely the face of what most people know as college athletics.”
    Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott also weighed in. “We are delighted that after years of debate, a consensus has emerged that the time has come for a modern approach to governance that recognizes the need to give more flexibility to those conferences prepared to do more for student-athletes and, at the same time, preserves the collegiate model which works so well for the vast majority of Pac-12 student-athletes,” said Commissioner Scott. “This is a great day for the 7,000 current student-athletes in the Pac-12 and for generations of future student-athletes who will benefit from the educational opportunities and life lessons made possible by college athletics.”
    O’Bannon v. NCAA
    “We note that the Court’s decision sets limits on compensation, but are reviewing the full decision and will provide further comment later,” NCAA chief legal officer Donald Remy said in a statement.
    Bill Isaacson, a lead attorney for the O’Bannon plaintiffs, said the ruling is a “major step towards decency for college athletes.” The decision will allow conferences and schools, if they choose to do so, to compete for recruits by providing up to a full cost of attendance plus up to $5,000 in licensing revenue”, Issacson said.
    “That’s reasonable but significant sharing for athletes given the billions in revenues that schools earn from their football and basketball players,” Isaacson said. “Now, what’s the full cost of attendance and why is the NCAA fighting at this point? When college football and basketball fans pick up the paper and it says athletes can share in revenue for the full cost of education and a trust fund, why would anybody be bothered by that?”.
    And What About the CU?
    The discussion concerning the “haves” and the “have-nots” has been going on for years.
    With new autonomy decision by the NCAA Board of Directors – and shelling out $3,000-to-$5,000 per student-athlete*which will come with it*- the Power-5 schools will be able to offer benefits to recruits that other schools may feel like they can’t afford. For a school like Colorado, the*”cost-of-attendance” payout to its*student-athletes*will add about $1 million to the budget annually, perhaps starting as early as 2016.
    And this is before we get to the hundreds of thousands of dollars*schools are going to have to hold in trust per year*for its players as a result of the O’Bannon ruling.
    What might become problematical for schools like Colorado, though, is that there could soon become a division between “have-have’s”*and “have-not-have’s” amongst the Power-5 conferences.
    Right now, Colorado is playing catch-up with the rest of the Pac-12. Between a dearth of revenue which came*with the switch from the Big 12 to the Pac-12 and the chronic lack of institutional commitment to improvement in facilities, CU is*lagging far behind its conference brethren in amenities (and results).
    The thing is … the Buffs are catching up. Part of it has to do with Rick George being able to raise $50 million in a year (at a school which had never received pledges totaling $15 million in any previous year); part of it has to do with*the Pac-12 television revenue, already double what CU received in the Pac-12 (and soon to be triple); and part of it has to do with a new sense of commitment from the athletes, athletic department, and Buff Nation.
    And, at least right now, Colorado is closing the gap. Not because CU is receiving more money than the other schools, but because the other schools – at least for right now – don’t need it as much.
    You can only put so many big screen televisions in the players’ lounge before it becomes overkill. You can only add so many acres to the weight room before you start finding*rows of unused equipment. You can only wear so many different colored uniforms in a season.
    Evidence that Oregon has run out of new ways to burn money … this year’s season tickets have “scratch-and-sniff” smells added.
    While other schools in the conference have hit saturation, Colorado is in a position, over the next few years, to catch up. A chance to*put new facilities in place. A chance to pay off some of*the debts it has accumulated. A chance to restore a new, more level playing field.
    If the full affects of the*Power-Five autonomy vote and O’Bannon ruling kick over the next few years, though, Colorado will be back in catch-up mode. While Oregon and USC will be able to apply*increased media revenue toward*the*cost-of-attendance costs and O’Bannon license fees, Colorado will fall further behind once again, having to shell out monies which could otherwise have been used to retire debt and pay for improvement to cover these new costs.
    And Colorado will not be alone.
    There may be the creation of a new classification of schools across the nation … the “have-not-haves”.
    Many of the so-called have-nots who play*outside of the Power-Five*conferences*acknowledge there’s already a significant competitive gap and the best recruits tend to choose those schools anyway. This will only be accentuated when players can be paid for costs-of-attendance and likeness fees at schools like say, Colorado, but not at schools like say, Colorado State.
    But between schools like Colorado and USC, the gap could widen, as the Trojans will be in much better position than the Buffs to pay the costs-of-attendance fees and O’Bannon fees. Colorado could be amongst the 65 “haves”, but also be in a new classification, the “have-not-haves”, struggling to compete within their own conference.

    Both the Power-Five autonomy vote and the O’Bannon ruling help to move collegiate athletics closer to a model where athletes are compensated for their time, and are recognized for their contribution to the multi-billion dollar industry they help fuel.
    The University of Colorado, sitting pretty as a solid member of one of the Power-Five conferences, stands to benefit from being a part of the 65 schools nationally who are, and will continue to be, awash in media rights fees. Unlike schools such as Colorado State, which will be left further and further behind in the race for money and recruits, Colorado can handle the costs of this week’s landmark decisions.
    It just would have been better for CU if these decisions were to go into effect in another five-to-seven years …
    … when Colorado has achieved parity – on and off the field of play – with other schools in the Pac-12.
    —–


    Originally posted by CU At the Game
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