Weekly Column: Growth Opportunities for the NCAA

In his capacity as a Columnist for California Sports Lawyer®, Founder Jeremy Evans has written a column about three areas for growth for the NCAA and college athletes in the next decade.

You can read the full column below.

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The National Collegiate Athletic Association (“NCAA”) is the largest and really only college entity in the world that oversees collegiate sports. College associations are non-existent outside of the United States. This monopoly gives the NCAA and their member institutions (the universities) tremendous power and opportunity for growth in the next decade and beyond. There are three areas where growth will occur.

The name, image, and likeness (“NIL”) era will be one-year old in July of 2022. The NCAA removed the prohibition against college athletes profiting from their NIL around July 2021. Since that time, millions of dollars have exchanged hands between college athletes and brands. The NIL can expand into NFTs and the metaverse. The avatar business and virtual worlds is exactly what NCAA athletes could use to grow their NIL intellectual property portfolio and exposure for themselves, the NCAA, and their academic and athletic institutions. It is also a seamless transition to the video gaming and esports the permeate the sports industry.

Content production in sports, specifically documentaries and docuseries have grown exponentially. Hollywood has even turned the Halo game into a series. NCAA athletes and their schools are the perfect blend of exciting content and storylines. With college athletes now being able to profit from such entertainment film and television endeavors, it further paves the the road to stardom beyond the field. Apple and Amazon broke the gate open with streamers not attached to a traditional broadcaster for purchasing expensive live sports rights, now NBC/Peacock is looking to follow suit with it purchase of select Sunday baseball games. With the HBO+/Discovery+ platform merge, maybe Warner Media/Discovery will be looking for more sports product, including live, scripted, and unscripted content.

Colleges sports are very popular content, particularly the NCAA basketball tournament, College World Series, and championships in other sports—when these rights become available (particularly CBS for the NCAA basketball and March Madness) there will be a buying frenzy. The College Football Playoff is not a part of the NCAA, however, college athletes can still benefit from exposure and NIL deals that follow. More views on content also means greater school financial distributions (e.g., the NCAA gives 60% of its revenue, including March Madness, to the member institutions directly).

Lastly, sports betting. The guesstimate is that betting dollars on the NCAA basketball tournament will range between $3 and 10 billion dollars. An astronomical amount. The NCAA cannot benefit directly, but member schools have brokered deals with sports betting companies for sponsorships and will likely continue to do so as more states in the Union pass sports betting laws. College and professional athletes are forbidden from signing such deals because of issues of impropriety, but the additional engagement and viewership will open up many opportunities for growth. One thing is certain: when viewership and engagement numbers are high, advertisers come knocking.

The new growth of sports real estate will only bring additional attention to college sports. The time is for growth. The NCAA and college athletes are primed for the success with good governance, guidance, and advice.

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About Jeremy M. Evans:  

Jeremy M. Evans is the Chief Entrepreneur Officer, Founder & Managing Attorney at California Sports Lawyer®, representing entertainment, media, and sports clientele in contractual, intellectual property, and dealmaking matters. Evans is an award-winning attorney and industry leader based in Los Angeles. He can be reached at Jeremy@CSLlegal.com. www.CSLlegal.com.

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Jeremy M. Evans is the CEO, Founder & Managing Attorney at California Sports Lawyer®, representing entertainment, media, and sports clientele and is licensed to practice law in California.