If you believe college athletes should be able to make money on use of their image, and I do, then don’t be too overjoyed at the NCAA’s vote Tuesday to make its peace with the idea.
One, states forced the NCAA’s hand with laws. Two, the NCAA doesn’t like having its hand forced, and read beyond the headline.
The NCAA has voted to endorse the idea of athletes profiting from use of their image and begin creating a legislative structure for it … with a catch. This clearly non-amateurish concept must still fit within the NCAA’s idea of amateurism.
In other words, athletes can make money, as long as it’s done in a way that makes the NCAA feel like its forcibly evolving idea of amateurism stands.
The NCAA will retreat slowly, and facing the enemy. It won’t give up one more step of ground than it must.
Considering the NCAA’s history of trying to square its symbolism with real-world pragmatism, aren’t we all just a little afraid to see how the NCAA will try to square that circle?
That’s before those clever, pesky and uber-competitive coaches start finding ways to stretch legislation from NCAA intent to coach-useful letter of the law. Let the cascade of addendums begin.
The NCAA voted to begin a process Tuesday. Count on the governing body of college sports to cling to every last vestige of amateurism and try to regain every last vestige of control.
History teaches us to expect a fraught result, falling somewhere well short of victory-lap proportions for idealists.