Two recent events, one a court decision and the other a decision by the largest members of the National College Athletic Association could further change the college sports landscape, and make the case that student-athletes are employees with the rights to organize and bargain.
The court case was a ruling that student-athletes can share in the revenues generated from broadcasting and other media outlets such as video games.
According to an article on the ESPN.com web site, the ruling essentially compels the largest universities to offer what are called "cost of attendance" scholarships and account for the revenue that the names images and likenesses of the student athlete demonstrate. The latter revenue could be placed into a trust fund that the student could access upon graduation or exhaustion of eligibility.
The next case on the docket concerning the NCAA is a case capping any sort of compensation, and the case of the Northwestern University football players' efforts to organize is still pending as well.
Former University of California Los Angeles player Ed O'Bannon, who was the lead plaintiff in the suit, thinks this may relieve the pressures that lead student-athletes to leave early to pursue professional careers. "I don't think that players will be in a hurry to leave [anymore] and test their professional status," he said. "Hopefully, they will stay in school a little bit longer."
The second decision that may change the landscape of college sports basically gives the five major sports conferences more power and autonomy.
The five power conferences; the Atlantic Coast Conference, Big 10, Big 12, Pac 12 and SEC, as well as Notre Dame, will be able to set their own rules on stipends, recruiting, hours spent on sports and other rules. Other rules that may be considered, according to ESPN.com include loosening of restrictions on contact between players and agent, which could serve to solidify that the power conferences are basically a de facto minor league for the National Football League and National Basketball Association, allowing athletes to pursue outside opportunities, and cover expenses for families to attend post-season events like the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament and the new College Football playoff.
Issues like scholarship limits, transfer polices and on-field play are not affected by this autonomy. Which may have been approved to avert the power conferences leaving to create their own body.
That may only be a matter of time, I could still see the power conferences, perhaps in collaboration with the NFL and NBA forming their own association and the NCAA governing smaller schools like my alma mater Youngstown State.