SELS Lecture

Brian Shannon, Paul Whitfield Horn Professor in the Texas Tech School of Law, spoke about legal cases against the NCAA and their effect on college education during a lecture at noon on Thursday, Oct. 10 in Room 106 of the law school.

The Sports and Entertainment Law Society hosted Brian Shannon, Texas Tech’s faculty athletic representative to the National Collegiate Athletics Association, during its first general meeting of the year on Thursday.

During his lecture, which took place at noon on Oct. 10 in Room 106 of the Tech School of Law, Shannon highlighted recent legal cases against the NCAA, such as Alston v. NCAA and the Fair Pay to Play Act.

California Judge Claudia Wilken, according to a report from SB Nation, ruled in favor of Shawne Alston, former West Virginia Mountaineers running back, in his case against the NCAA on March 8. Wilken ruled the NCAA’s scholarship caps, which kept universities from offering scholarships covering costs above tuition and housing, were illegal.

“There were claims that even with the NCAA offering cost of attendance scholarships has unduly restricted the kinds of aid that could be offered because there are other costs related to education,” Shannon said. “What about continuing on to grad school?”

By offering education related to monetary rewards, Shannon said the judge’s ruling could potentially increase the chances of academic fraud being done to benefit college athletes.

“There needs to be strong vigilance about wanting to make sure we don’t have academic fraud and putting steps in place to guard against that,” he said. “And then, oh yeah, there’s cash incentives for certain grades.”

The NCAA seeking is to appeal the ruling, Shannon said. They also brought up a legal statute in California, the Fair Pay to Play Act, which will go into effect January 2023.

The bill would allow college athletes to earn money from endorsement deals, such as having their likenesses used in video games, without losing benefits given by the NCAA, Shannon said. The act would also allow athletes to employ agents to represent their interests.

Before signing, California Gov. Gavin Newsom appeared on a Sept. 27 broadcast of HBO’s “The Shop” to discuss the bill and the NCAA’s reaction.

On the show, Newsom said the bill is going to initiate dozens of other states to introduce similar legislation. 

The bill is going to change college sports for the better, Newsom said, by having the interests of the athletes on par with the interests of the intuitions.

Shannon is afraid this rule would allow more high-profile college athletics programs to attract recruits by offering potential endorsement deals low-profile programs would not be able to match, he said.

“Within NCAA division 1, there are 325 (teams),” Shannon said. “So, if this law goes into effect in 2023, what’s to preclude the favorite car dealers with connections to UCLA, USC, Stanford from going ‘Coach, who are your top ten recruits? We’ll make sure we get this many commercials.’”

When the bill goes into effect, Shannon said it will not take long for other states to propose similar legislation.

“Whether you think it’s a good thing or a bad thing, I think it’s going to change college athletics,” he said.

SELS president Harrison Weir asked Shannon how the California bill would affect the amateurism model adopted by the NCAA and if the organization would attempt to change the model going forward.

“I just don’t know,” Shannon said. “What I’d like to see happen, if I were drawing the rules, there’s only five sports where all students have full-ride scholarships. I’d rather see those rules change to have more scholarships available.”

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