March Madness kicks off this week, and it seems like everyone involved is making the big bucks, except the players.
The NCAA is projected to earn about $1 billion this year in TV rights for the men’s basketball tournament alone, but players get no money… only the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat.
North Carolina Congressman Mark Walker says that’s just not fair.
Walker has introduced a bill that would allow NCAA athletes to profit from the use of their names and pictures.
“I believe in free markets. I think that is what makes America great, “said Congressman Walker. “If those folks want to go back home and work somewhere on the side to be able to have access to that likeness they are allowed to do so.”
Under current NCAA rules,student-athletes receive scholarships, but stand to lose their eligibility if they sign endorsement deals.
Congressman Walker says his bill would change that and provide income to star players, as well as those who won’t ever play professionally.
Sports Management professor at George Washington University Lisa Delpy says benefits should be strictly tied to education.
She says adding outside money to the mix could lead to corruption and it’s certainly a distraction.
“Signing autographs, doing photoshoots or commercials these take hours,” said Delpy.
Supporters of the bill say it provides an opportunity for students, but opponents say only a small number of players would benefit.