Integrity cuts both ways
Even as the National Collegiate Athletic Association racks up an impressive number of in-house ethics scandals regarding its policing of college sports, it insists that it's all about integrity.
Preservation of that supposed integrity is why it precludes paying the college athletes who generate billions of dollars every year for their universities and, especially during "March Madness," for the NCAA itself.
Apparently, that dedication to athletes' integrity precludes paying athletes who continue to generate revenue for the NCAA, even after they graduate and no longer compete in college sports.
Former UCLA basketball star Ed O'Bannon has filed a lawsuit against the NCAA, which since has been joined by Bill Russell and Oscar Robertson, among others. Mr. O'Bannon contends that the NCAA licensed his image for use in video games without his permission or compensation. The NCAA claims the image is not that of Mr. O'Bannon. Mr. Russell and Mr. Robertson contend that players should be entitled to a cut of TV revenue for NCAA-sanctioned games.
About 85 percent of the NCAA's revenue comes from the Division I men's basketball tournament, to which the NCAA owns all rights.
Time.com recently reported on another case of players' images being exploited - an ad for Axe deodorant featuring cheerleaders swooning over an astronaut rather than players involved in an iconic March Madness moment.
The spot features footage from a March 20, 1998 game in which Valparaiso advanced the ball the length of the floor and hit a three-pointer in just 2.5 seconds, to beat the Ol' Miss in that year's March Madness first round.
Axe paid an undisclosed licensing fee to the NCAA for the footage but the three players responsible for the play will get just $500 each, take it or leave it.
Integrity cuts both ways. It's time for the NCAA to approve some compensation for players and to deal fairly with those whose images it exploits for revenue.