ESPN analyst Jay Bilas urges NCAA to pay athletes at panel discussion
Jay Bilas, an ESPN college basketball analyst, isn’t shy to admit he profits from student-athletes — but he said that doesn’t make him ignore their exploitation by the NCAA and the universities they represent.
“When you are making money off of someone while at the same time restricting them from making money, you are by definition exploiting them,” Bilas said at a panel Wednesday.
Bilas sat on the panel with UNC Professor Barbara Osborne, Associate Director of Athletics Paul Pogge and lawyer Ken Hammer in the Blue Zone at Kenan Memorial Stadium.
UNC School of Law’s Sports and Entertainment Association and Campbell’s Sports and Entertainment Law Society hosted the event.
In August, a judge ruled in favor of former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon, in the federal anti-trust case of O’Bannon v. NCAA, prohibiting the NCAA from enforcing any rules that would disallow Division I football or men’s basketball teams from making money off their recruits’ image, likeness or name.
“The athletes are the ones that have to make the sacrifice,” Bilas said. “No coach is taking a discount so we can have wrestling; no administrator is taking a discount so we can have a really good women’s lacrosse program.”
But student-athletes are already receiving extra benefits, said Osborne, an adjunct sports law professor.
“The education that a person receives, through participation in athletics, is something that is valuable,” Osborne said.
Bilas said NCAA athletics are a multi-billion dollar business, but Osborne and Pogge said the real enterprise is education.
Hammer said he thinks some schools, like Texas, won’t be afraid to dish out money to athletes in revenue sports.
Osborne said she thinks paying athletes isn’t necessary.
“Athletes are a third party beneficiary of the relationship between them and the school,” Osborne said. “The university invests a ton of time, energy and money into them so they can perform.”
While the other three panelists argued that introducing money would change the landscape of college athletics, Bilas said the dynamics of the NCAA evolved a long time ago.
“Pandora’s box was open when we started selling these sports for billions of dollars to television,” he said. “Pandora’s box was open a long time ago.”
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