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Proposal addresses student-athlete compensation

May 26, 2016 12:00 PM

Ryan Rivet
rrivet@tulane.edu

Gabe Feldman, director of the Tulane Sports Law Program

Gabe Feldman, director of the Tulane Sports Law Program, says allowing student-athletes to make money from endorsement deals would be a win for the students and the NCAA. (Photo by Paula Burch-Celentano)


“What’s the justification for denying them the ability to profit off of their names, images and likeness like every other person in this country?”

Gabe Feldman, director of the Tulane Sports Law Program

The debate over whether or not college student-athletes should be compensated above and beyond their scholarships continues on the airwaves and in sports bars across the country. Questions about how those payments will be decided and whether or not it would ruin collegiate athletics tend to be the sticking points depending on which side of the issue one lands.

In an effort address those concerns, The Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics asked Gabe Feldman, director of the Tulane Sports Law Program, to weigh in on the issue at its meeting in Washington, D.C. on May 10.

Feldman submitted a proposal that would allow college athletes to receive compensation for the use of their name, image or likeness off the field. That would allow student-athletes to be paid for things such as endorsement deals, video games or trading cards. Feldman says this would allow student-athletes to benefit from their prominence.

“Why should student-athletes be prevented from receiving these kinds of payments,” says Feldman. “What’s the justification for denying them the ability to profit off of their names, images and likeness like every other person in this country?”

Feldman reviewed all of the primary arguments the NCAA has made to defend the rules restricting compensation to see if they held up. In his opinion, they did not.

“My ultimate conclusion was that not only can the NCAA maintain all of their worthy aims, but allowing name, image and likeness payments may actually help them better achieve those aims,” says Feldman. “This would provide benefits for student-athletes while maintaining the integrity of college athletics.”

Feldman’s proposal also addresses another hot-button issue in the debate: How should student-athletes be compensated? His solution is to let the market sort it out and use the established model of the way endorsements are handled by professional teams.

“The idea is not to reinvent the wheel,” says Feldman. “The professional sports leagues have been able to use these models successfully, and those leagues are very concerned about circumvention of salary cap rules. They have rules in place to protect the integrity of the game and yet still allow for these endorsement deals.”


Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000 website@tulane.edu