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Athletes signing Letters of Intent enter a changing amateur world

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The young athletes that are signing their letters of intent to play collegiate football will be entering a new and dynamic world of amateur athletics. The current litigation brought by former NCAA athletes Ed O'Bannon and Sam Keller has been partially certified as a class action lawsuit so the players can explore the possibility to be paid for their likeness in merchandising. Kain Colter, a quarterback at Northwestern University has created a College Athletes Players Association that will advocate payment for players and protection of their health with increased medical coverage. New athletes will probably have to be more adept at knowing their rights as athletes even before attending practice and will be called upon to make tough choices as young adults. The recruitment process in previous years has shown, in individual stories, that young athletes are influenced by many (parents, coaches, friends, outsiders) which leads to great stress in making choices.

Young athletes must also be aware of the continually changing landscape of schools leaving other conferences and joining others to become "super conferences". The revenue disparity between the five major conferences (ACC, SEC, Big 10, Big 12, PAC-12) and small conferences can dictate policy on NCAA rules. For example, expanding player stipends to $2,000 has been voted down by smaller schools in the past because they feel it will exhaust the athletic department's budget. The five conferences above have talked about breaking away from the NCAA to create their own association but nothing has happened yet. Young athletes should begin to read about the recent history on this subject, especially (the Oklahoma Board of Regents v. NCAA case, 1984) to begin to realize the world they are entering when they sign that letter of intent. They must "grow up" quickly on their own and make choices to protect their dreams of graduating college and possibly playing professional sports.

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