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Everything you need to know about the NCAA paying athletes
(Credit: Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports)

Everything you need to know about the NCAA paying athletes

(BVM) – College athletics have undergone massive changes in the past few years, but Thursday’s announcement is the most dramatic news yet.

The NCAA and Power 5 conferences reached a revenue-sharing settlement that will now allow schools to directly pay players. This is a move that has been speculated for some time, but now that it is actually coming into play, how will it work?

This is everything you need to know about the NCAA’s groundbreaking deal.

What are the rules for spending?

Schools will be able to spend 22% of the average athletic department revenue. The dollar amount is not finalized because the new rules will not take effect until fall 2025. The current percentage would equal out to around $22 million, but that will likely change in the next 15 months. All Power 5 schools will have the same budget to work with no matter the school size, so Wake Forest athletics will be able to distribute the same amount of money as Alabama. This should help balance out the playing field. The dollar amount will increase four percent in each of the next three years before it is reevaluated.

How will schools budget this?

There are no rules to this, which is what makes it so interesting. Football is king on the majority of college campuses, so will schools pay them accordingly? Another factor that was not addressed was Title IX, which ensures gender equity across programs. If schools are required to split the budget between male and female athletics, that will be a huge aspect to consider.

What about booster-run collectives already in place?

It feels like the initial ruling will not affect collectives too much. The new revenue-sharing system gives smaller schools a higher floor, but NIL-based groups connected with big programs should still put top schools over the edge. This will remain a big problem going forward, but this is at least a step in the right direction to protect college athletics.

Do former athletes get the short stick?

The settlement does include back pay for former athletes and they will receive a total distribution of $2.7 billion. Athletes dating back to 2016 are eligible for payment. Compensation will be completed in a span of 10 years.

What other details were included in the settlement?

An interesting quirk is the inclusion of roster limits. The days of 100-plus rostered athletes on a football team are over as sports will now have a set amount of players allowed. This likely eliminates walk-ons in football. The good news however is that programs will no longer be limited on scholarship numbers. This will be beneficial to smaller sports as many more of those athletes will receive full rides.

How will this affect smaller programs on campus?

This is a bit undecided as there is reason for this to be both positive and negative. Smaller programs could have more scholarships available, giving the opportunity of a free education to more young athletes. But the elephant in the room is that schools will now spend more money than ever on athletics. Some universities may look to cut programs in order to make up for this. Not all schools will cut corners, but some certainly will.

What happens next?

This is a historic step for collegiate athletes, but it is likely not the end. The reality is that there are still major problems with the NCAA. Expect athletes, especially ones in major sports, to fight to become employees. This would allow them to receive actual wages rather than rely on dividends decided by schools, along with other benefits. This is what they should be pushing for next.

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