NCAA athletes could get paid with TV contracts

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The anti-trust trial levied upon the NCAA by former UCLA basketball player Ed O'Bannon and a host of other plaintiffs has been a revelation as to how, if ever, college athletes could get paid in the future. 

The lawsuit was filed by O'Bannon in 2009 and argues that players, after graduation, should receive financial compensation for the NCAA's use of their images.

Football and basketball players could make hundreds of thousands and, in some cases, even as much as a million dollars during their college careers, under a model proposed in court Friday. The figures were presented by University of San Francisco economist Daniel Rascher, according to the Associated Press, who said this type of money could be available for athletes if big colleges split their money evenly from television revenue.

He said those figures were at the high end of his model, which allowed players to 55 percent of that revenue. Other models forecast as low as 10 percent of the money going to players.

The message was clear though. Top colleges could - and maybe even should - compensate their players. 

Not with a scholarship. Not with a $2,000 stipend. Not with free travel, or housing, or food.

The Southeastern Conference announced in May that the conference made about $309.6 million in total distributions to its 14 colleges. Those distributions were calculated based on a revenue-sharing plan that ends after this year, setting up the colleges to figure out a way to distribute even more money in the future.

The mark represented the highest number in SEC history, with an average of slightly more than $20.9 million being distributed to each school.

Even the Atlantic Coast Conference, which had a national championship team in Florida State but typically trails behind the other top conferences, made record revenue last year. According to an ESPN report, the conference saw a $57 million jump in revenue, up to $291.7 million.

Its financial boon came after a year when it added three schools to the conference: Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Notre Dame (football-only).

Where does this disbursed revenue come from?

The SEC says that its "total distribution amount" is comprised of revenue generated from televised football games, bowls and championships, as well as televised basketball games and tournaments.

So the schools continue to profit from TV deals - which are set to expire soon, meaning that they will be able to negotiate for even higher revenues.

The schools often then invest that money, building larger stadiums, larger facilities, larger team buses and larger private planes. They see a direct benefit from that money, but take off these expenses so that the annual budget doesn't show clearly how profitable their seasons were.

Meanwhile, the players work what amounts to at least a full-time job in order to earn their college education.

Which isn't so bad.

That is, until you consider that universities build $61 million athletic complexes with the money they receive from using athletes' images and abilities free of charge.

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