Weekly Column: 5 Things that have and will Change College Sports

In his capacity as a Columnist for California Sports Lawyer®, Founder and Managing Attorney Jeremy Evans has written a column about the unfettered growth of profitability in college sports.  

You can read the full column below.


The college sports landscape is in the midst of a massive disruption on how it is viewed and run by the NCAA, broadcasters/streamers, athletic conferences, and student-athletes. One thing that will remain constant if universities are attached to athletics is that athletes in college will always be students. The principle of amateurism derives its beginnings and future in that student-education concept. However, along the arc of history in college sports, the focus has moved from academics first to athletics first on the agenda. The athletics first agenda has led to distrust among the parties and more on point, a drive to compensate and commercialize college sports.

There are five things that have and will change college sports.

Social media

Name, image, and likeness became an interest of college athletes, brands, and universities when social media provided a platform to distribute and grow financial opportunities. State legislatures provided the catalyst when the NCAA, NFL, and NBA did not want to change its amateurism model. Once profit became more important than academics, all parties involved began to push towards monetization of everything in college sports. In other words, the money train had left the station.

Friday Night Lights for College Football

FOX, like many of the Power Four athletic conferences, is using the schedule of football and basketball games to grow viewership that has benefitted from realignment. The NFL is consistently one of the highest viewed programs on television. The NFL has added Thursday and Saturday football games to the schedule, which already included Sunday and Monday. More than half of the week includes football on television. College football is reserved for Saturday, but is now set to appear on Friday as well. The move will increase revenue and visibility for college football and thus financial benefit. It will not be too long before the broadcasters-streamers begin the nationalization and commercialization of high school football as well.

EA Sports—Group Payments

The EA Sports College Football Game marks the first universal payment to college athletes that goes beyond one university, one brand. It is akin to a players union in professional sports securing group player rights across teams. This will not be the last deal secured especially as unionization has now been introduced, subject to appeal.


Unionization will provide the negotiating body to secure group licensing rights and minimum standards (insurance, minimum salary, roster control, etc.) for student-athletes. If unionization is approved, it will place a stake in the ground that will mark the date that officially moved college sports into a professional minor league. More national deals will follow when group rights are more easily secured. Expect more national and international brands to enter the conversation.

NIL Tournaments

College athlete paid in-season tournaments will now provide an additional catalyst to competitive sports. Whether this is a great idea when combined with the rise of sports gambling, unionization, the transfer porter, and individual name, image, and likeness deals is another story entirely. As the college sports story is being written, one has to consider that the NCAA, universities, and college athletes have a branding problem. Neither of the parties knows what it is or what it wants to be. There only seems to be a race to monetization of everything despite college athletes still being students.

One may disagree whether college athletes and profitability should be in the same sentence. Regardless, the parties have an identity problem that is only being addressed currently by adding more profitability scenarios. Until the industry regulates itself or is regulated by a government or quasi-government entity, there will continue to be confusion as to the rules of engagement and enforcement and questions of fairness, implementation, and interpretation. The NCAA, universities, and the college athletes needs to define what they and what they want to be before adding more scenarios that blur the line between amateurism, academics, profitability, and institutional control. Unfortunately, lost in translation is that education and capitalism are good things when priorities are established that will define the future of college sports.


About Jeremy M. Evans:

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

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