Tim Crone: Giving college athletes a piece of the pie was way overdue

The Examiner
Tim Crone

The NCAA finally got its just due in the Supreme Court, which finally handed out its ruling last week. 

Athletes participating in Division I men’s and women’s sports will be allowed to receive benefits and awards that will include cash. The ruling also stated that schools may also offer scholarships for undergraduate or graduate degrees and paid internships after athletes have exhausted their college eligibility. 

The NCAA may not place any limits on benefits for athletes, such as laptops, tutoring or study-abroad programs. Simply stated, the fat cats will no longer be able to treat college athletes as sports slaves as they rake in all the revenue. 

The role of the NCAA and colleges has been reduced to organizing sporting events – i.e., March Madness and college football playoffs.

The blame falls directly on the NCAA. They used the college athletes every step of the way to keep their outdated and unreasonable rules. It was just a three years ago that the NCAA began to allow payment for the athlete’s meals after playing in a major college sporting event. The organization has been unwilling and inflexible for the past five years. 

Athletes were suspended and schools were punished for athletes selling their own jerseys while the schools made millions of dollars on game day selling those same jerseys and T-shirts. 

Many think this ruling could signal an end for college sports. I do not agree. 

Athletes will continue to play for the same reasons and will be rewarded if they are successful. Schools in certain states will have an advantage in recruiting. Washington, Tennessee, Florida and Texas do not have state taxes so student-athletes would not have to pay taxes on those earnings. 

In the past, the NCAA rulings were always in favor of maintaining power within the organization. Throughout its history, the organization has stood for making money. If an NCAA athlete broke certain rules, the penalty was dealt according to which school was involved. Consistency in enforcing the rule was never a strength of the NCAA. 

The new ruling can be controlled, and the athletes can benefit and still maintain a college atmosphere. 

Opponents of the new ruling claimed it would be like the wild, wild west. Behind the scenes, college sports have been wild for a long time. The only difference is that now the athletes can benefit. 

The good college programs will probably get even better, and the smaller college programs can compete out in the open. Change is hard. Good comes along with bad in change and it is way past time for college athletes to be compensated for their contributions to college sports. 

Greed finally caught up with the NCAA. College sports may have a new look, but the level of play will remain high. 

• The quote of the week comes from Bobby Knight, Hall of Fame coach and college basketball legend: “People think a sport is very important. Well, I think it’s enjoyable and we have a lot of fun with it, but we have got to understand that if we did away with the School of Education or the School of Medicine, it would have a greater effect on Indiana University than doing away with the athletic department.” 

Tim Crone, a William Chrisman High School graduate, is a former activities director and coach for Blue Springs High School. He writes a weekly column for The Examiner. Reach him at t.crone@comcast.net.