Rebuilding the NCAA: Separate Revenue and Non-Revenue Sports

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Come January the leaders of the NCAA will have a summit to discuss the future of college athletics. It’s an important meeting, one that could fundamentally alter the fabric of the college athletics experience. As the Johnny Manziel autograph saga continues to play out, lots of you have been emailing and Tweeting asking what kind of system I would design if I was suddenly in charge of fixing a broken NCAA. So I’ve spent lots of time thinking about this issue over the past couple of months. 

You guys know I’m not a fan of the NCAA, in fact, I think all too often the organization has engaged in ruthless, arbitrary, and capricious rulings. But I do understand that the NCAA has been charged with a fundamentally impossible job — combatting a free market in a country founded on the principles of a free market. It continues to amaze me when people are surprised that payment to football and men’s college basketball players finds a way to reach those players. Didn’t prohibition and the war on drugs teach us anything? If a market values something, the money finds a way to get to its intended target.

Often, however, college football scandals don’t involve very much money in the grand scheme of things. I mean, we’re talking about Johnny Manziel being ineligible for a few thousand dollars in sold autographs. When you consider that college football is now a multi-billion dollar a year business, does that many any sense at all, that a player could be ineligible for pocketing that kind of money?

So how do you fix the NCAA?

You’ve got to separate the revenue producing and non-revenue producing sports. 

Okay, but how do you do that legally?

My idea sounds radical, but it’s actually pretty simple:  

College football and men’s college basketball need to stop providing scholarships to the 98 athletes a year who are playing in these sports. instead the students should pay for their own schooling via the revenue that their athleticism produces. That is, every football and men’s basketball player should have his scholarship deducted from a check he receives every month. Set the scholarship costs at around $25,000 a year and pay each player in the neighborhood of $50,000 a year. The leftover money, nearly $2,000 a month, would go to each player to do with as he sees fit. Effectively each player would receive right at $24,000 a year.

Now let me explain why I think this plan makes a great deal of sense.

This is what you call a teaser. 

Read the full column hered and let me know what you think. Unless you lack basic reading comprehension skills. In which case you can keep your opinions to yourself. 

Written by Clay Travis

Clay Travis is the founder of the fastest growing national multimedia platform, OutKick, that produces and distributes engaging content across sports and pop culture to millions of fans across the country. OutKick was created by Travis in 2011 and sold to the Fox Corporation in 2021.

One of the most electrifying and outspoken personalities in the industry, Travis hosts OutKick The Show where he provides his unfiltered opinion on the most compelling headlines throughout sports, culture, and politics. He also makes regular appearances on FOX News Media as a contributor providing analysis on a variety of subjects ranging from sports news to the cultural landscape. Throughout the college football season, Travis is on Big Noon Kickoff for Fox Sports breaking down the game and the latest storylines.

Additionally, Travis serves as a co-host of The Clay Travis and Buck Sexton Show, a three-hour conservative radio talk program syndicated across Premiere Networks radio stations nationwide.

Previously, he launched OutKick The Coverage on Fox Sports Radio that included interviews and listener interactions and was on Fox Sports Bet for four years. Additionally, Travis started an iHeartRadio Original Podcast called Wins & Losses that featured in-depth conversations with the biggest names in sports.

Travis is a graduate of George Washington University as well as Vanderbilt Law School. Based in Nashville, he is the author of Dixieland Delight, On Rocky Top, and Republicans Buy Sneakers Too.