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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

KU studying decisions that change definition of student-athlete

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As students return to Kansas University and football season gets underway, fans may be interested in depth charts and tailgating.

But athletics officials are looking at court decisions and administrative actions.

Two decisions last week could have a wide-ranging impact on college sports. Jim Marchiony, associate athletics director of external relations for Kansas Athletics, said KU is still in the phase of examining the impact of those decisions.

"Right now, it looks like college athletics will be undergoing some change, and those of us in college athletics, meaning the student-athletes and the universities, are going to have to adapt to these changes," said Jim Marchiony, associate athletics director of external relations for Kansas Athletics.

On Thursday, the NCAA voted to allow Division 1 schools to offer stipends to student athletes for the "full cost" of attending school. The decision is seen as benefitting the major conferences, such as the Big 12, which have big television contracts and can tap those funds.

After the decision, Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott told reporters that the stipend would range from $2,000 to $5,000 per student at schools in his conference. But Marchiony said no dollar amount had been determined at KU.

"It's way too early to even speculate on numbers," Marchiony said Tuesday. "We've begun the process of figuring out what exactly it will mean."

At a recent conference on college sports, Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said on the Big 12 Digital Network that schools would work on providing stipends to fund the full cost of education but that it may take time.

"Student athlete benefits are certainly important," Bowlsby said. "They need to be front and center, but we have a whole bunch of structural things and a whole bunch of additional rules to put in place," he said.

On Friday, a federal judge issued a landmark decision that would allow college athletes to share in the revenue generated by the broadcast of their names, images and likenesses.

The O'Bannon case — named after lead plaintiff Ed O'Bannon, a former UCLA basketball star — is being appealed by the NCAA.

The decision by U.S. District Court Judge Claudia Wilkens has been seen as a major blow against the NCAA position of maintaining student athletes as unpaid amateurs. Wilkens ruled that the NCAA's prohibition against athletes sharing in the multibillion-dollar collegiate sports industry amounted to an unreasonable restraint on trade.

"The high coaches’ salaries and rapidly increasing spending on training facilities at many schools suggest that these schools would, in fact, be able to afford to offer their student-athletes a limited share of the licensing revenue generated from their use of the student-athletes’ own names, images, and likenesses," Wilkens wrote.

Her decision lifts the restriction that barred schools from giving students at least $5,000 per year while they are playing.

Marchiony said that decision "is even more in flux" because of the appeals process.

And Marchiony noted that further change might be in store for college athletics when the National Labor Relations Board rules on an appeal of a regional director's decision that college football players are employees and have the right to unionize. No date has been set for the release of the ruling.

Not all in the Big 12 are happy with the direction of college football.

Last week, Kansas State Coach Bill Snyder said television contracts have taken over the game and education has become secondary.

"I think we've sold out. We're all about dollars and cents. The concept of college football no longer has any bearing on the quality of the person, the quality of students. Universities are selling themselves out," he said, according to Associated Press reports.

Comments

Aaron Paisley 5 years, 9 months ago

Bill Snyder isn't wrong in his assessment. The O'Bannon ruling is only going to impact a very small percentage of college athletes. There will be some KU basketball players who benefit from that ruling if it's upheld. The other ruling giving the Power 5 schools significant autonomy will have a much bigger impact on KU. The ability to cover all costs of attendance will help a lot of athletes out.

One of my questions though is will the stipends be given to ALL athletes including walk ons, all athletes on scholarship, only the athletes on full athletic scholarship, or just the athletes in the revenue sports?

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