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If the NCAA wants to get serious about the athlete likeness issue, we’ll help

But they don’t really want to get serious about the issue

NCAA Womens Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Albany Regional-UCLA vs Connecticut Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The news that the NCAA has formed a working group to explore the issues surrounding compensation for the use of an athlete’s likeness was met with a range of responses. Some people started anxiously discussing the return of the NCAA Football video game while others began to worry that it would destroy the “level playing field” (um yeah about that one). Syracuse Orange fans don’t need to worry about anything happening for the near future.

Why? Well because this working group is stacked so that it’s really unlikely that they will make any recommendations to the current rules. This simply looks like a PR move by the NCAA to make it appear as though the organization has heard the pleas of athletes and fans and is moved to respond. The reality is that a group of administrators will meet and discuss the issue and when all is said and done they will pass on being agents of change.

The working group will be led by Gene Smith and Val Ackerman, and frankly the inclusion of Smith shows that the NCAA remains tone-deaf to what’s going on. Smith is a well-respected athletic director but with the issues which have occurred under his leadership at Ohio State how is he the best choice for this group? Last fall he was suspended by Ohio State for the handling of the Zach Smith situation and the NCAA wants us to believe he’s here to really dig into this issue? It’s as much nonsense as that late summer suspension was.

To show you how much importance the NCAA is placing on the athlete’s voice in this group, they announced every member but the athletes and since we have representatives from Division III schools it’s possible at least one of the athletes will be chosen from those institutions. No matter which athletes are selected I can guarantee you they won’t be the best choices if the NCAA was serious about exploring this issue.

I’m not suggesting that people like Zion Williamson or Kyler Murray should be involved. I’m talking about former UCF Knights kicker Donald De La Haye who can certainly provide his perspective. Or Texas A&M Aggies runner Ryan Trahan who was forced to choose between competing for the school or promoting his water bottle company because entrepreneurship surely isn’t something A&M promotes among their student body...

If the NCAA wants to treat athletes like regular students, then they shouldn’t restrict legitimate business opportunities. That’s why the current working group will have some conference calls and in-depth discussions about the challenges of regulating this issue. They will say more time is needed to explore the potential dangers of a rule change and they will hope this issue goes away. If they actually took the time to include student-athlete entrepreneurs then maybe I’d feel more hopeful for some progress in this area.

Trust me I wish NCAA Football was coming back but I’m not running over to GameStop to reserve my copy just yet.