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Money Really Talks in the NCAA

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Money Really Talks in the NCAA

High-level college sports have long been operated like a business, generating billions in revenue each year. And finally, top athletes are able to share in a piece of the pie. But just how exactly does the NCAA's new status quo operate?

Daily Upside,

5 min read
3 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Money is flowing into college sports as student-athletes get paid for their Name, Image and Likeness.

Editorial Rating



  • Analytical
  • Eye Opening
  • Background


Can American college athletes still be classified as amateurs in a new era that allows them to profit from their “Name, Image and Likeness” (NIL)? And what about the money pouring in from “collectives?” These university booster clubs lure athletes with promises of cash and merchandise – often so much money that it shapes their choice of a college. Writing in The Daily Upside, Brian Boyle explains that while the landmark 2021 NIL legislation gave student-athletes a nice slice of the financial pie, it also opened a can of lucrative worms. Whoever scores highest in the end, college football and basketball are being irrevocably changed.


Since the “Name, Image and Likeness” (NIL) ruling, money has been rushing to student-athletes.

For decades, rules set by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) prohibited college athletes from sharing in the billions of dollars generated by their teams’ lucrative TV contracts and other money-making ventures. That changed in 2021 when the NCAA adopted the NIL policy, enabling athletes to profit financially from their “Name, Image and Likeness.” In 2022, athletes raked in roughly $1.2 billion in NIL deals, an 11% increase from 2021. Before NIL, they earned nothing. However, NIL has also spawned a complex and shady “ecosystem” in which wealthy fans – particularly alumni – create and heavily fund not-for-profit booster clubs or collectives that underwrite incentives to lure the best players to their schools.

College recruiting has started to resemble pro sports’ free agency, where money typically determines which teams land the best players. This is blurring the line between college athletes and professionals. As this controversy continues, a jittery NCAA is trying to figure out how to maintain its athletes...

About the Author

The Daily Upside writer Brian Boyle is also a Los Angeles Times contributing opinion writer whose work has been syndicated in major newspapers. He is a digital homepage editor and reporter at SFGate, and his writing has appeared in Slate, Vice, Milwaukee Magazine, and elsewhere 

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    R. G. 6 months ago
    Money Really Talks in the NCAA" likely refers to the influence of financial considerations in college sports, particularly within the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). This could involve issues such as athlete compensation, sponsorships, and the economic dynamics shaping college athletics. If you have a specific aspect in mind, feel free to provide more details for a tailored response.

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