NCAA, Power 5 Conferences Agree to Let Schools Pay Athletes

( – The potential for college basketball players to earn a portion of the profits they generate by playing just got one step closer to reality. The NCAA, SEC, Pac-12, Big Ten, ACC, and Big 12 all agreed on a multi-billion dollar resolution that would settle several lawsuits on May 23. The scheme, if approved by the judge overseeing the cases, would allow college athletes to be paid for their work for the first time in American history.

NCAA President Charlie Baker called the settlement agreement “an important step” in the evolution of college sports, which benefits student athletes and clarifies rules regarding the process.

The agreement resolves three federal cases involving the NCAA and the rights of college athletes to earn income from the games they participate in. The NCAA regularly creates billions of dollars in revenue per year, and the funds are typically pocketed by the schools or organizations involved in broadcasting the games.

If the resolution is approved and agreed to by all parties, payments to student athletes could begin as early as next year.

Athletes would have to give up their right to sue the NCAA in potential future antitrust suits and those involved in the federal cases presently would have to agree to drop their cases.

Former Colorado student athlete Alex Fontenot is suing the NCAA over the sharing of television generated revenue and his case is not involved in the settlement agreement. Any athlete who joins his suit could also potentially threaten to topple the agreement.

Judge Claudia Wilken presides over all three federal antitrust cases and will decide if the agreement is effective or not. She has yet to reveal her decision.

The NCAA would also pay $2.8 billion in back-damages to over 14,000 student athletes who played between 2016-2020. The plan also authorizes a potential revenue-sharing plan which would see players potentially be able to split up to $21 million per year in profits from their games. The NCAA will also revise rules regarding student athletes being able to use their name, image, and likeness to earn income which had previously been prohibited.

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