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Students Making Money: NCAA Approves Payment for College Sports Teams

For the first time in over 100 years, the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA), alongside its five power conferences, has decided to allow colleges to directly compensate their players—not for playing the game, but more as an apology by the NCAA.

According to ABC, this decision aims to resolve three pending federal antitrust cases against the NCAA from House, Hubbard, and Carter. Legal issues surrounding these cases include athletes and their advocates struggling to find work and collectively bargain, dealing a serious blow to the billion-dollar-plus industry of college athletics.

If the plaintiffs drop their complaints, Division I athletes from 2016 onwards will be entitled to receive a share of what is estimated to be $2.7 billion over 10 years. Pending the presiding judge’s approval, revenue distribution could commence as early as fall 2025. However, there’s a catch: athletes forfeit their right to sue the NCAA for any potential antitrust violations.

While the settlement isn’t highly favored, according to Notre Dame president John I. Jenkins, it is essential for preventing the bankruptcy of college athletics and preserving college sports. Essentially, it’s a way for the NCAA to rectify its mistakes and dissuade students from seeking retribution.

Jenkins also informed ABC News that Congress needs to enact new legislation to safeguard college athletes. He believes this legislation should specify that college athletes are not employees and shield them from antitrust lawsuits, providing students with more security and allowing colleges to establish protective rules for their athletes.

However, college sports, like professional sports, is a complicated business. The terms of this new agreement don’t resolve all upcoming legal issues, but they do mitigate exposure to antitrust litigation. For the NCAA, this means losing a potent tool for colleges to support their athletes.

While some may feel relieved, the case isn’t closed yet. ESPN’s antitrust attorney sources suggest that the deal could be voided if athletes opt out and join a separate case. Nevertheless, proponents of the deal are confident that it will proceed to the processing stage.

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