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NCAA Exec. On Future Of College Sports: ‘Pay For Play’ Unlikely

NCAA Executive Oliver Luck (left) joined IU Athletics Director Fred Glass for a panel discussion at IU Bloomington.

Photo: Becca Costello

NCAA Executive Oliver Luck (left) joined IU Athletics Director Fred Glass for a panel discussion at IU Bloomington.

Every year the NCAA brings in close to $900 million dollars. But athletes don’t see any of that money – at least in the form of a monetary payment. NCAA officials are familiar with the long debate over whether to pay college athletes, but changing the system seems unlikely.

Surrounded by students at a panel discussion this week, NCAA executive Oliver Luck says there’s not much chance of paying student athletes.

He says college athletics is based on two pillars: education and amateurism. Luck says that means playing for the love of the game, not for a paycheck.

“We’ve, I think, widened the lanes for amateurism and what it really means,” Luck says, citing examples like allowing tennis players to collect winnings and find sponsors for competition in the off-season. “And I think we’ll continue to do that.”

And that expansion is financial. IU is a good example, he says. In addition to a scholarship for tuition, fees, books and housing, IU now gives athletes a small stipend for other expenses.

And the university’s athletic director says that’s enough to meet the athletes’ needs.

“I think if we move toward true pay for play, if we give students money over and above that which reimburses them for their costs, then you kill the goose that’s laying the golden eggs,” says IU Athletics Director Fred Glass. “You take away the special sauce out of sports … I think you lose the magic of sports.”

In the end, Luck says he doesn’t foresee the NCAA moving away from their core values.

“Because those values, in my mind, are somewhat timeless, I think they’ll be around a long, long time,” he says. “I think if you take a [look] back at college athletics over the last 145 or 146 years, I think most folks would say it’s been a force for good in this country.”

The panel also covered a myriad of other challenges facing college sports, like financial stability and gender equity.

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