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Changing scenery of NCAA sports

flagCollege football has changed forever and nobody is talking about it.

The vote that took place last week for the 80 autonomous schools in Division I to offer full cost of attendance scholarships is just the beginning.

Let’s not act like this is some gift to the student-athletes or some hand out to their families. This is actually more of a make good than an actual enhancement. A young lady on full-music or choral scholarship receives full cost of attendance. A young man with a high SAT score and a rock-star GPA with a bunch of AP classes gets the full cost of attendance with their academic scholarships.

University of Nebraska – Lincoln chancellor Harvey Perlman said “The concept of a full scholarship for non-student-athletes includes an amount that is above those numbers that reflects the real cost of attendance at the university.”

The bigger question should be; why would student-athletes who often act as the front porch to a university and are part of the contribution towards millions of dollars in revenue for the university not be afforded the same comfort?

That is actually only the first half of the shoe to drop.

U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken’s August ruling in the Ed O’Bannon lawsuit promoted a system that instructs schools who want to compete at the highest level of college football and men’s basketball to offer cost-of-attendance scholarships PLUS as much as $25,000 that would be drawn from likeness-related revenues but would be paid out after an athlete graduates or completes his NCAA eligibility.

There is no way that this benefit would ever be paid out to just the participating members of those sports teams that earn revenue. So this will more than likely be instituted across the board to all student-athletes regardless of revenue production. When Texas Director of Athletics Steve Patterson was asked about it, he estimated that it would cost the University of Texas somewhere about $10,000 per student-athlete per year. There is no doubt that the revenue rich University of Texas athletic juggernaut that is approaching the $200 million per year revenue mark, regardless of its ‘in the red’ accounting, can absorb the additional expense.

But what about Wake Forest? What about Iowa State? What about Northwestern, Washington State, Minnesota, and Rutgers?

I didn’t even mention the schools that operate outside of the confines of the 80 schools that make up the autonomous five conferences. At least the 80 have the dollars that are delivered through the huge television contracts with the conferences. What about North Texas, SMU, Boise State and Fresno State? Did the chasm between the autonomous five and those schools get deeper and wider? Will some schools drop back to the Football Championship Division (FCS) level of football? Will some schools eliminate athletic programs? Will conference realignment could come back into play even though many schools have signed all-rights agreements within their conferences?

I always thought it was odd that the University of Texas, the University of Alabama, and USC were in the same division as North Texas, Rice, and Louisiana-Monroe. While the cost of attendance is the immediate issue that will come to bare in the 2015/2016 school year, the likeness-related revenues that will equate to $5,000 per year per student-athlete will be the long-term headache for every administrator in the country.

If the NCAA appeals are denied and most experts expect them to be, it will not take long before an athlete or group of athletes challenge the $5,000 number as a value for their likeness.

How could anyone say that $5,000 to Johnny Manziel (Academy is still selling shirts with his number #1 on them), Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota, and Amari Cooper makes sense when every track and field athlete, tennis player, and swimmer is getting the same $5,000? Can an associated value be proven for the former over the latter? As I sit here and shake my head at the possibility of that argument, there is a lawyer or team of lawyers in an office somewhere putting a plan together to fight that very fight.

College sports and college football and basketball in particular have changed forever. Full cost of attendance will go into effect in 2015/2016 and I expect college sports to look really different by 2020 if in fact the NCAA appeals are denied.

College sports will change. Check the landscape.