In April, the NCAA said it was in support of a proposal that would allow student-athletes to sign endorsement deals and also make money for doing outside work non-related to their school.
That followed California's Fair Pay to Play law, which will grant college athletes to right to profit from their likeness beginning in 2023, while Republican U.S. senator from Florida Marco Rubio introduced a federal bill that would do the same, albeit with certain limitations.
But for Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green, those changes don't go far enough.
"They are taking baby steps when the entire system is broken," he told Zach Lowe of ESPN.
Green has been working with Chris Murphy, a Democratic U.S. senator from Connecticut, to make fair pay for college athletes a reality.
"Everyone wants to speak out on the issue, but no one wants to be part of the solution," Green told Lowe. "What has really stuck out to me about Senator Murphy is that it wasn't just lip service. It was, 'OK, this is bad, what can we do to change it?'"
"I think we need to admit college football and to a lesser extent college basketball are the unpaid minor leagues for the NFL and NBA," Murphy added. "And [the players] are getting paid nothing. It's an abomination."
There's little doubt that college football and men's college basketball generate huge revenue. High-profile coaches are signed to contracts that pay them millions per year. The power conferences in college football (ACC, SEC, Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12), for instance, split up a base payout of $66 million with member schools. That doesn't include additional revenue from sources like bowl games.
It's big business, but one that doesn't seem to proportionally benefit the athletes that drive the sports.
"They throw around the word 'student-athlete,' but it couldn't be further from the truth," Green said. "You're an athlete that happens to be a student. You don't have time to get a job and provide for yourself, or send money home. This is a $14 billion industry, and the workers aren't paid."
Opponents of paying college athletes argue that they already receive full scholarships, or cite the complications that would arise from paying athletes directly. Would it be a fixed amount at every school or vary? Would all players receive the same payment or could certain players sign larger deals? How would such systems affect recruiting? Would schools with less resources be able to keep up with the Alabamas and Clemsons of the world?
Fair questions, but ones that could be addressed. For now, the prospect of players making money off their likeness is a step to a more equitable system. But Green and Murphy are pushing for the NCAA to go even further.