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Report: Massive Financial Changes Coming to College Football

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WVU Football Stock Photo, NCAA

The NCAA is rapidly moving toward a direct-compensation model for college football.

With the rise of NIL and the transfer portal, and the increasing money coming into the college football landscape via the College Football Playoff, it was only a matter of time. A “super-conference” has been teased since Oklahoma and Texas announced their intention to leave the Big 12 for the SEC in 2021.

There’s not a super conference yet, or even a new model, but there is discourse almost every day. According to a report by Ross Dellenger of Yahoo! Sports, a rather pricy model could be on the way.

“The 10-year settlement agreement could cost each power school as much as $300 million over the decade, or $30 million a year,” Dellenger reported. “That figure assumes a school meets what is believed to be: (1) a $17-22 million revenue distribution cap for athletes; (2) at least $2 million in withheld NCAA distribution for back damages; and (3) as much as $10 million in additional scholarship costs related to an expansion of sport-specific roster sizes — a concept previously unpublicized.”

It would mean that schools would share revenue, and directly control NIL deals, with its athletes. That’s the direct connection between schools and their athletes. And there’s already an unequal revenue sharing amongst the Power Four teams.

“The timing and the settlement hinges, somewhat, on another antitrust case: Fontenot v. NCAA,” Dellenger reported. “That case seeks billions of dollars for college athletes in compensation from televised broadcasts.

“While the House settlement is expected to consolidate two other antitrust cases — Hubbard and Carter — the Fontenot case is an outlier. House, Hubbard and Carter share the same legal team in Steve Berman, of Hagens Berman, and Jeffrey Kessler, of Winston & Strawn. Fontenot was brought by the law firm Korein Tillery.

“A hearing is set in the Fontenot case for later this month, a key date in settlement discussions. A consolidation of all four cases is ideal as to prevent future legal challenges against the NCAA and power leagues.”

Dellenger reported that if the legal matters are settled, and they’re expected to be soon, the revenue-sharing model would begin no sooner than the fall of 2025 but could be pushed back to the 2026 season. So, there is some wiggle room, but it appears to only be a matter of time.

But at the same time, there’s no escaping what’s to come in terms of the financial situation in college athletics — football, in particular.

“Schools will have the opportunity to share millions in revenue with athletes with a spending limit similar to a professional sports team’s salary cap,” Dellenger reported. “Estimates put the amount at $17-22 million per program, though the amount could fluctuate. The figure was determined through a percentage (roughly 22%) of an average of Power Four athletic department revenue streams, most notably ticket sales, television contracts and sponsorships — not donations.”

It appears that the days of amateurism in the NCAA are coming to an end. The new rules will allow schools to increase scholarship limits — double scholarship limits in some cases.

“Two power conference administrators told Yahoo Sports that they plan to add more than 100 additional scholarships at the expense of $9-10 million annually,” Dellenger reported. “A portion of the additional scholarship expense may be counted toward the revenue-sharing cap, but that too is a fluctuating figure.”

The college football landscape is changing rapidly, and it doesn’t appear to be avoidable. It’s just the reality of college football in the new era of college athletics.

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