Just before the really big clash between Alabama and Georgia on Jan. 8, 2018, a headline writer for Time magazine exclaimed, “This Could Be The Last College Football Championship Game With Unpaid Players.”
Time was a little early with the assessment but the time is coming when college players will collect. There are all sorts of court cases challenging earning restrictions on athletes.
The NCAA Board of Governors, aware of public perception, surrendered and grudgingly announced support for the idea of players being paid for the use of their names, images and likenesses. It wants the Supreme Court to establish boundaries and bring order of chaos.
The college sports establishment is said to fear forthcoming auctions with affluent business owners bidding for football and basketball talent. Endorsements might, indeed, become a powerful recruiting tool.
In theory, this new gold mine would mostly enrich stars or players with special stories to tell or Hollywood good looks or glowing personalities. Think Peyton Manning.
College athletics departments won’t have to write the checks.
The creative broadside from WeAreUnited, the Pac-12 group supposedly joined by hundreds of athletes across the country, is a very different project. It presents another set of goals and potential impact.
For openers, it reasonably calls for protection from health risks and an end to racial injustice. The punch line is the demand for 50 per cent of each sport’s total revenue. Just to be sure everybody is listening, there is the threat of a labor strike.
With millions on my mind, I was very impressed to learn that Tennessee football had a class last week in economic fundamentals. My first thought was that Jeremy Pruitt was again in front of a developing situation.
My interpretation was wrong.
The coaching session in dollars and sense was part of his on-going program to prepare Volunteers for real life. NFL prospects might be the top beneficiaries but there are value points for all.
Amy Moffitt of First Horizon was guest instructor. Her bank is best friends with Tennessee sports. If the Vols are playing, First Horizon is a primary sponsor of the Vol Network.
“I was with the University of Tennessee football team, talking to them about budgeting and understanding financial goals,” Moffitt said. “It’s so important for student-athletes and students in general to understand how to budget, and to understand financial goals early in life so they get a fresh start to their financial journey.”
I am told Amy’s presentation came with enthusiasm. She is believable. She is also an expert. She is often on campus as a bonus in business classes.
“The football team was a great group. The players were interested. They saw the value in preparing for the future. They took notes.”
She said the Vols are smart.
“Everybody wore a mask and respected social distancing.”
For most Volunteers, “money” is a catch-all for scholarships, cost-of-living adjustments, Pell Grants, limited summer earnings or love gifts from home. There was a time when ticket scalping boosted the bottom line.
The entire scene will change if players become employees and strike it rich.
The application of common sense in managing whatever is available is wisdom learned by listening or gained from experience.
The Pruitt plan for helping boys grow into men is a Tennessee selling point. Amy Moffitt as a resource improves the probability of success.
Marvin West welcomes reader comments or questions. His address is firstname.lastname@example.org