Oregon's TE David Paulson is a junior business administration with a concentration in sports business. He recently had a chance to guest blog on CNBC's SportsBiz on NCAA related issues and he used the opportunity to voice his support for Bruin legend Ed O'Bannon's ongoing lawsuit against the NCAA concerning players' publicity rights (HT Brian Cook at the Sporting Blog):
I understand the NCAA does not want to try to deal with college athletes getting endorsement deals and trying to determine if they are still amateur athletes, but this is not right. If the endorsement comes from being involved in a different sport or industry then it should be allowed. They should just have rules that state you can't mention anything about his college athletic career.
It seems like the NCAA doesn't want anyone using a players' name to make money besides them. For instance a college athlete cannot even use his name to run a football camp to make some extra money. It doesn't seem fair that the NCAA is the only one with rights to make money off of college athletes. I think some changes need to be made to give some of the rights back to the players.
They could put a cap on how much a player can make or make some other restrictions, but at least give the players the right to use their name. Now I am not saying that college athletes should be paid to play or be able to sign big endorsement deals. I think this would ruin college football because the schools with the most money would get the best players. I do think that players should be able to use their names to make some extra money and to help market themselves for their future.
Giving a player the rights to use their own name would allow players to establish their names for careers after college. My teammate could use his name in his car business and it could help establish his name for after college. Another teammate could start a camp in his hometown and it would help establish his name in town and establish a small business opportunity for after college. I believe college athletes should be allowed to use their names to build their personal brand for after college. Not everyone is going to go play in the NFL and I think it is important that the athletes are given the chance to grow their personal brand for after college.
I understand that this would be difficult for the NCAA to monitor and that some places would try to take advantage of these rules. I just think it doesn't make sense that the NCAA uses players' names and images to make money, but the players get no chance to use their own name. At the end of the day if it is too much to ask to let college players have their publicity rights at least give us our rights back to us when we are done playing.
It will be interesting to see the end results of Ed O's class action. It is hard to disagree with Ed O and David Paulson's underlying points. Yet David conceded need for reasonable regulations as he indicated through his suggestion about possible cap on hypothetical revenue base for college players. Then the question becomes whether the NCAA will have the capacity to enforce those regulations.
From what we have seen so far they inspire zero confidence. So there is a chance in an unregulated environment the corruption and sleaze around this game will become lot worse than it has already gotten thanks to certain shady programs. I think beyond the lawsuit the key stakeholders in college game need to come up with some fundamental, common sense reforms with regards to how they regulate the game because it doesn't seem to be functioning in its current state. I think a decision from a landmark lawsuit (one way or another) is not going to be enough to fix the mess.