SBD/August 7, 2014/Colleges

Big 12 Panel Discusses Budgets, Likeness, But Little Consensus Found On NCAA Reform

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The Big 12 conference yesterday hosted its first-ever State of College Athletics forum in N.Y. with the goal of fostering a dialogue about some of the major issues surrounding college sports. The event was streamed live online, and archived video can be found in its entirety on Big12Sports.com. While all 10 panelists acknowledged the need for change on several fronts, there was little consensus on how to go about NCAA reform.

NAME, IMAGE, LIKENESS: As the NCAA and its member institutions await a judge’s ruling in the Ed O’Bannon lawsuit, the panel delved into the issues surrounding an athlete’s name, image and likeness (NIL). West Virginia AD Oliver Luck said that he believes individuals should be compensated for use of their NIL, and that athletes do not waive that right by signing a scholarship. Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby echoed that sentiment, saying, “I believe the collegiate community has learned a lesson about taking broad latitude with names, images and likenesses.” Luck noted, however, that for the vast majority of student-athletes, there is not much monetary value in their NILs. Bowlsby, in that vein, noted that it is hard to evaluate the value of a student-athlete’s NIL because “as you think about the name on the back of the jersey, it is hard to separate that from the name on the front.” Kansas State AD John Currie put that in perspective, noting that EA Sports’ annual college football videogame only brought in $50,000 to KSU. CBS’ Armen Keteyian raised the possibility of student-athletes being allowed to sell their own NIL through endorsements, an idea Texas men's AD Steve Patterson was vehemently against. He told reporters after the forum, “I think it’s too fraught with competitive ways to game the system,” referring to agents and third parties finding ways to take advantage of student-athletes. Bowlsby: “You don’t have to have a very good imagination to envision scenarios where there would be things taken advantage of.”

AUTONOMY: Today’s vote on reform to the NCAA’s governance model that would grant the 65 schools from the power conferences an unprecedented degree of autonomy served as the jumping-off point for the conversation. Naturally, all three Big 12 ADs expressed support for the proposal, but Sports Management Resources President Donna Lopiano was vocal in challenging its merit. Lopiano, who served 17 years as Texas women's AD, said she was “aghast” at the notion of “institutionalizing the self-interest” of the power conferences. She added that a more equitable distribution of revenue from NCAA championships would allow schools outside the Power Five conferences to provide greater benefits for their student-athletes, as well. But Patterson and Bowlsby showed little interest in sharing revenue tied to TV ratings generated by their programs. Bowlsby: “I don’t know that it’s the responsibility of the 65 to fund the other 270 (D-I schools).” He added that the Power Five conferences “put their best offer on the table” -- in the current proposal they will remain under the D-I umbrella and share access to championships and revenue -- and suggested that they could take more drastic action should the vote go against autonomy. But Lopiano asserted that the power five conferences would be put “in a terrible position” in terms of antitrust litigation if they were to secede from D-I completely. The panelists also discussed whether the autonomy would create a major recruiting and competitive imbalance between power five schools and mid-majors. Luck asserted that players would continue to attend mid-majors for a variety of reasons, including academics and increased playing time.

NOTABLE NUMBERS: Patterson said that UT’s athletic budget for ’14-15 would be about $175M, up from $165 in ’13-14. He added that half of the school’s revenue from the Longhorn Network and 25% of its football revenue goes toward funding academics. Currie said that 45% of KSU’s athletic revenue comes from TV contracts, bowl contracts and the men’s basketball tournament, while 55% comes from individual ticket sales and donations. Currie following the program also provided media members with a detailed breakdown of his department’s revenues and expenses for FY ’14-15.
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