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Big Sky Commissioner Tom Wistrcill Says House V. NCAA Legal Settlement Is Flawed

May 22, 2024, 2:34 PM

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SALT LAKE CITY – Big Sky Conference commissioner Tom Wistrcill joined the KSL Sports Zone to talk about the ongoing House V. NCAA legal settlement.

Wistrcill said that the lawsuit against the NCAA is legitimate but believes that the suggested settlement is unfair to smaller schools.

Name, image, and likeness changed the landscape of college athletics in 2022. Many student-athletes who played in the years leading up to the change felt that they should be compensated for their time in the NCAA.

“As the money has increased so dramatically in college athletics, NIL came about and allowed student-athletes to capitalize on the revenue,” Wistrcill said. “The House lawsuit is about the student-athletes who didnt get a chance to capitalize on their name, image, and likeness. All 32 conferences and the NCAA are trying to settle that lawsuit.”

The settlement provides an opportunity for the NCAA to manage NIL going forward. Most people agree that the current state of paying collegiate athletes is problematic and hard to regulate. Ironically, figuring out how to move forward is the easier part of this settlement.

About $2.8 billion dollars in back damages will be paid to student-athletes who played from 2016 to 2021. But it isn’t as simple as giving each player who played in that timeframe the same amount. No school or player generates the same amount of revenue so it’s on the NCAA to determine the split.

“There are two parts to the settlement,” Wistrcill said. “The easy part is let’s look forward. All 360 schools could opt-in to pay their players up to $20 million a year. Hopefully, the settlement allows the NIL market and all this craziness around pay-for-play to create calmer waters. The other part of the lawsuit is the look back.”

Every college brings in money from athletics but the difference between any two schools can be night and day.

The NCAA put forward a framework that has the top-5 conferences paying 40 percent with the other 27 conferences splitting the leftover 60 percent.

Wistrcill said that the overwhelming majority of the money being paid to former student-athletes will go to those who played in one of the Power Five conferences. So, why should the other 27 conferences pay for student-athletes who didn’t even attend their schools?

“The NCAA decided that the way they were going to pay was 40 percent of the money is coming from the (Power Five conferences) and the other 60 percent is coming from the other 37 conferences,” Wistrcill said. “At face value, (that) sounds reasonable until you realize that approximately 94 percent of the money is going to go to A5 men’s basketball and football players. That’s the crux of the issue that the 27 conferences have compared to the A5.”

The NCAA Board of Governors will meet later this week which marks one of the final steps in the settlement process.

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Chandler Holt is a co-host for the Jazz Notes podcast and a Digital Sports Producer for KSLSports.com, specializing in all things basketball and football. Follow Chandler on Twitter @ChandlerHoltKSL or on Threads @chandlerho1t.

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Big Sky Commissioner Tom Wistrcill Says House V. NCAA Legal Settlement Is Flawed