US college sports set for seismic shift to paying student-athletes

Agence France-Presse
US college sports set for seismic shift to paying student-athletes

 WASHINGTON – College sports in the United States is set for a seismic shift toward professionalism after a settlement Thursday (Friday Manila time) that will pave the way for schools to pay student-athletes.

It's a first in more than a century of collegiate sports, where amateur status for student-athletes has been strictly enforced.

That was even as huge popularity made college basketball and American football money-spinning juggernauts.

Governing body the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) struck a major deal with the so-called five "power conferences".

The conferences are influential groups of universities, effectively regional governing bodies.

"The five autonomy conferences and the NCAA agreeing to settlement terms is an important step in the continuing reform of college sports," a joint statement from NCAA president Charlie Baker and the commissioners of the five biggest conferences said.

While the settlement involves only the NCAA and the five "power conferences", the statement indicated that it is expected that new regulations will be broadly applied throughout college sport.

Thursday's settlement addresses pending federal anti-trust lawsuits, but it will have far-reaching consequences.

ESPN reported the settlement includes payment by the NCAA of more than $2.7 billion in damages over 10 years to past and current athletes.

ESPN cited unnamed sources in reporting the parties have also agreed to a revenue-sharing plan allowing each school to share up to roughly $20 million per year with its athletes.

The NCAA had already bowed to pressure in 2021 by allowing college athletes to capitalize financially from their "name, image or likeness" in so-called NIL deals.

This had long been forbidden for even star athletes, who could lose their scholarships and playing privileges for flouting the rules.

US lawmakers have proposed legislation in recent years to address fair treatment of student-athletes.

In March the House of Representatives heard new proposals on introducing a "uniform standard contract" for college athletes nationwide in regard to NIL deals.

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