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Marketing 101: Time to allow NCAA Athletes to Cash In

Currently, the revenue making sports such as basketball and football have many crying for sweeping reforms within the NCAA and their member schools. Many, including myself, strongly believe that NCAA student-athletes should be financially compensated.

According to an audited financial statement, the association released in March of this year, the organization had $989 million in total revenue during its 2014 fiscal year. It had $908.6 million in total expenses, including $547.1 million distributed to Division I schools and conferences. This left over an $80 million surplus and the fourth consecutive year in which the annual surplus has exceeded $60 million.

Although you hear the outcries by the NCAA that many member schools are being used as a minor league system by high-profile student-athletes, there still remains overall silence with 
the escalating salaries of college football and basketball coaches.

The NCAA Power 5 conference schools can now offer scholarships that cover the full cost of attending school. Although that's a step in the right direction, the average college basketball and football players fair market value far exceeds the value of their athletic scholarships because of millions in revenue generated by them.

Although ESPN's Jay Bilas feels that the NCAA and member schools should be responsible for compensating student-athletes, there just isn't a fair and equitable way to pay each athlete. Do you pay the athletes responsible for generating millions the same as the lacrosse player? Also, there will be the challenges of remaining in compliance with Title IX.

Even with those challenges, I do feel that the NCAA should allow student-athletes the ability to benefit financially from their own image (name) and likeness, basically like the average American is free to do. It should be required that all student-athletes consult with legal professionals before entering agreements with any sponsor deemed appropriate by the NCAA.

Although there wouldn't be any shortage of national or local sponsors willing to compensate high-profile basketball and football student-athletes, I'm more than certain that endorsement opportunities will be available for all collegiate athletes. For example, if golf student-athletes can draw interest from local Country Clubs that are willing to compensate them for promotional purposes, then they can benefit financially as well.

Many could argue that this isn't an equitable plan either, but in my opinion, it would be a major improvement than what's currently in place. It's definitely time for a change.

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