Compensation for college athletes (I deliberately stay away from the word “pay”) is going to be a massive headache because of the huge variations in type of school and program. Consider, for example, Gonzaga. Or better, Williams College, since I am very familiar with them. Their athletes aren’t even compensated with scholarships in most cases. There are basically no revenues from sports–their fieldhouse doesn’t fill during basketball season, their bleachers don’t fill during football season, and the rest of the sports draw almost nobody at all. No television. Minimal radio, and it doesn’t pay to broadcast the games. So no income from athletics at all. And minimal compensation for the athletes.
On the other hand, take Michigan. Another school I am very familiar with. Excellent compensation for football, for both mens and womens basketball, for some baseball and softball players but not all of them. Compensation takes the form of remission of tuition, fees, housing, food, etc. For an in-state student that amounts to about $30,000 per year. For an out-of-state student that amounts to around $60,000 per year.
How do you reconcile those two situations? Williams, of course, is not NCAA, so right now you don’t HAVE to reconcile them, but where is the future headed? How do you reconcile revenue-producing sports vs. non-producing? Is $30k or $60 sufficient compensation, or should it be considered compensation at all? What about those crew students, or lacrosse students, or field hockey students?
There is a huge can of worms coming that will undoubtedly hurt a lot of student athletes at the expense of the few who cash in. And as I said above, this is long overdue, but its not going to be pretty while it gets sorted out.