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Reader Thoughts: How 2020 May Have Changed the Future of College Sports

How will we view 2020 in 20 years?



I’ve received some good reader emails of late, and this one about the current state of college athletics stood out as a fascinating thinking (and talking) point. There’s one other I’ll publish today that delivered a great OSU-OSU basketball comp (comparing the 2004 team to the 2021 team), but we’ll address this one first.

So the Pac-12’s (and subsequent conference’s) de facto players union that has sprouted up got me thinking. Do you think the future of college football scholarships are going to look more like pro sports contracts? For example, NIL and revenue sharing could be variable allowing a non-blue blood program (like OSU) to offer a higher revenue percentage as a part of the player’s scholarship deal to compete with a blue-blood program in recruiting. Kind of like creating this open market for scholarship that in essence are contracts that come along with an education.

Was curious as if you had any thoughts on this, because the future for college athletics I think we can agree is going to change to some extent, but how much is the question. Thank you and the team for all the work you do even pumping out content in a content-less pandemic. There’s nowhere else I’d give my money for OSU coverage. -Jon J.

This is a phenomenal question, and I think it all depends on how you feel about the future of the NCAA. If you believe the NCAA will continue to adjudicate how college sports are played, then the answer to this question is that it will not happen. If, however, you see the NCAA bowing out as the Power Five conferences go it alone — and boy does a pandemic unveil some of those rumblings! — then this could feasibly take place.

It would create some real strategy, too, regardless of how you feel about players receiving more money. As an athletic director, you’d have to figure out a good balance between putting money toward things like recruiting and facilities and leaving it for a potential player pool. You’d have to be shrewd about TV (and other) negotiations to make sure enough money was flowing in, and juggling a budget would be even more difficult than normal.

I wish I could fast-forward 25 years (and then rewind immediately) to see what the summer of 2020 ultimately does to (and how it changes) college athletics because I don’t things are ever going to be the same again. Even if they are, even if the player empowerment movement doesn’t stick quite as much as it has in other sports, things have shifted at least a little bit, and we’re about to enter a different world, potentially even one that sees revenue sharing among the athletes who play the games.

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