On Tuesday, October 29, the NCAA voted in a landmark decision to allow college athletes to profit off of their name, image and likeness.
Until then, college athletes weren’t able to get paid through brand deals, endorsements, or accept any type of donation of any kind as it violated the NCAA’s rules and regulations.
Although the NCAA stated that changes to the current rules could occur immediately as long as they are within certain guidelines and principles, clear specifics were not defined such as a tentative date as to when the changes will be effective, a limit, if any, on the amount student-athletes could generate, any conditions that must be met in order to be eligible to generate revenue from their name, etc.
With college sports being such an important part of collegiate life, we wanted to know what students thought about the recent ruling.
So we conducted a survey with 1059 students across 42 schools.
Here’s what we found.
Over 16% of Students Do Not Agree with the Recent NCAA Ruling
172 respondents (16.4%) do not agree with the recent NCAA ruling which will allow student-athletes to profit off of their names, images, and likeness.
This number was higher than expected as we originally believed that almost all students would be on board with the recent change to allow their fellow students to finally earn some money for their hard work, especially due to the fact that the NCAA is a $1 billion generating organization.
However, some interesting points were raised for both sides.
Students Who Agree with the NCAA Ruling
A few points among many others that support the NCAA change were that schools should not be making money off of someone else’s (the student’s) performance, that being a student-athlete is similar to having a full-time job while in college, and that it’s their name and brand at the end of the day and that they should be able to do whatever they please with it.
“Being a student-athlete is like having a full-time job WHILE in college; it’s a lot of work. It’s physically, mentally, and emotionally draining. Colleges make millions of dollars out of their athletes and some athletes are worried about where their next meal is coming from. College athletes deserve to get paid a stipend AND college cost of attendance costs.”
-1st Year Student, New York University
“I think it makes sense for athletes to be able to generate revenue from their likeness based on the amount of money they generate for their school. In addition, the grand majority of athletic scholarships are not always enough to take care of their families and financial situation so the ability to generate money for their family could actually result in them spending more time in college as they no longer need to declare for the pros early in their career to make money.”
-2nd Year Student, University of Georgia
“Actors get royalties from their movies, singers get royalties for their songs, [student] athletes should get royalties for their athletic performance”
-1st Year Student, Cornell University
Students Who Disagree with the NCAA Ruling
Some arguments against the recent NCAA ruling included that going to college isn’t a job, it’s an education, a different motive to play will be created, an unfair imbalance will arise between teams, and the current imbalance between student-athletes and students will be amplified.
“It will concert college athletics into just another capitalistic enterprise where the biggest (most wealthy) teams get the best players and they will dominate the playing field. People prefer college sports over professional, many times, because all teams are on equal ground with equal opportunity to succeed. Many passionate college athletic fans will lose their heartfelt love for the sport due to this.”
-1st Year Student, University of Georgia
“Gives a different motive for the students to play. Students now mostly play at such a high level that involves a lot of commitment simply because they love the sport and are willing to dedicate their time for that. Now, I feel that students would end up playing just for the money.”
-1st Year Student, Stony Brook University
“Going to college is about furthering your studies and ultimately getting a degree. If a monetary incentive is added for athletes, they will have no motivation to actually participate in school. In the end, the sole purpose of university will be undermined because athletes will only use it as a stepping stone to go pro.”
-3rd Year Student, University of Virginia
Over 31% of Students Believe that Student-Athletes’ Grades will Decline
Almost one-third of respondents believe that the extra revenue that college athletes will be able to receive will cause their grades will suffer.
With the potential to make tens of thousands of dollars (if not, more) comes a drastic increase in potential distractions for college athletes.
Stories of top-earning athletes going bankrupt due to distractions such as gambling and lavish spending are not unheard of and such a sudden increase in income/fame, and a proportional increase in distractions, could not only leave college students in difficult financial struggles but academic ones as well.
Almost 40% of Students Believe there Should be a Limit on Student-Athletes’ Income
53% of respondents believe there should be no limit on the amount of money student-athletes should be able to make off of their name and image.
This means that on the other hand, almost 40% believe there should be some type of limit on how much they should be able to make, with $10,000/year being the most popular choice for a limit amount.
Despite the fact that the strong majority of students agree with the NCAA ruling, almost half of these students believe that there should be a limit to how much student-athletes can really earn.
Students in Southern States Most Skeptical about NCAA Ruling
To dive a little deeper, we looked at how the responses to the question of agreeing with the ruling and its impact on academics varied by region.
Schools in southern states included: The University of Alabama, Florida State University, the University of Central Florida, the University of Florida, the University of Georgia, Eastern Kentucky University, the University of Kentucky, the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, Clemson University, Tri County Technical College, the University of South Carolina, James Madison University, the University of Virginia, Virginia Tech University.
Schools in western states included: the University of California – Los Angeles, and the University of California – Berkeley.
Schools in midwestern states included: Butler University, Indiana University – Bloomington, Purdue University, Rutgers University, Iowa State University, Michigan State University, University of Michigan, University of Minnesota, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Ohio State University, University of Oklahoma, University of Wisconsin – Madison, University of Illinois at Chicago.
Schools in northeastern states included: Bentley University, Northeastern University, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Monmouth University, Binghamton University, Cornell University, New York University, Stony Brook University, Syracuse University, Pennsylvania State University, Temple University, Villanova University
Students in Southern States Least Likely to Agree with NCAA Ruling
Based on regions, students in schools in western states (specifically California) agreed most with the NCAA ruling compared to students in southern states who were on the opposite end of the spectrum.
Only 10% of students in California disagreed with the NCAA ruling while that number doubled to 20% for students in southern states.
Students in Southern States Most Pessimistic about Academic Impact
When it comes to the impact the recent NCAA changes will have on student-athletes’ grades, students in southern states are most likely to believe that there will be a decline in grades, with students in midwestern states right behind them, while western and northeastern states are typically more optimistic.
Only 17.5% of students in western states believe that student-athletes’ grades will decline compared to 34.1% of students in southern states and 34% in midwestern states.
With California signing the Fair Pay to Play Act which allows college athletes in that state to profit from endorsement deals, it’s no surprise that students in western states (particularly California) are the most optimistic about the recent NCAA change.
However, it is interesting to see that students in southern states are more skeptical about the recent change than any of the other three regions.
Although the strong majority of students seem to support this decision by the NCAA, the topics of academic impact, limits on endorsements and the other concerns echoed by students who disagree with the ruling must be considered when determining the specifics.
Finding the right balance between allowing college athletes to be compensated fairly and preserving the student-first mentality of student-athletes will definitely be a complex task but ultimately, the majority of students and fans of collegiate sports seem to be happy with the direction the NCAA is finally taking.
The “Do you Agree with the Recent NCAA Ruling” study by OneClass is based on survey data collected from 1059 college students in the United States across 42 different schools. 502 males and 541 females participated in the survey. Students were engaged on social platforms. This survey was conducted from November 5th, 2019 to November 7th, 2019.