Revenue sharing, NIL, NCAA roster sizes. Is there any consensus?

Revenue sharing, NIL, NCAA roster sizes. Is there any consensus?

DESTIN — After two days spent discussing some of the biggest issues in NCAA history, here was Tennessee football coach Josh Heupel’s takeaway from the SEC’s annual spring meetings:

“A bunch of questions coming in. Probably even more coming out.”

The true sign of a great meeting.

College sports is already known for moving at a glacial pace (a comparison that’s insulting to icebergs). The uncertainty surrounding the House v. NCAA antitrust lawsuit has bogged it down even more. Though all sides have agreed on the framework of a settlement, it hasn’t been finalized or approved by a judge.

“It’s going to be a process,” Gators athletic director Scott Stricklin said. “Each step of that process is going to give us a little bit more information, but it may be several months before we have a clear path here.”

In the meantime, let’s look at some of the unclear paths and why, as Heupel put it, there’s “no consensus on anything right now.”

Revenue sharing

What we know: Schools will be able to share about $22 million annually with players, likely starting in the fall of 2025.

What’s unclear: How that $22 million is divvied up. Will a starting quarterback make the same as a backup tackle, softball slugger or redshirt gymnast?

Why we don’t know what we don’t know: Title IX, for starters. The federal law is designed to ensure equity for males and females in education with things like scholarships. But what does equity mean here?

Does a school have to pay $11 million to male athletes and $11 million to female athletes? Or can it pay more to football players as long as the same number of women are being paid, too — say, 150 of each?

“We have to find out what the courts or some kind of legal authority says — whether it’s the Office for Civil Rights or a judge — about how we need to apply that,” Stricklin said. “Until we have that direction, it’s an unknown.”

And until that’s resolved, it’s too early for schools to start figuring out sport-by-sport or player-by-player allocations.

Name, image and likeness collectives

What we know: The settlement will try to make sure name, image and likeness deals involve real services and fair-market values instead of disguised pay-for-play arrangements.

What’s unclear: What role will name, image and likeness collectives have? How can anyone police third-party payments?

Why we don’t know what we don’t know: Having third parties skirt a de facto $22 million salary cap may be enticing, and top players will be worth more than what schools can legally pay.

But revenue sharing provides an easy way to eliminate middlemen. Schools might bring name, image and likeness programs directly into their office to streamline money coming in (through donations) and going out (to players or other sources).

“I’m not giving you guys a bunch of hooey here,” Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne said. “We don’t know yet.”

Roster size

What we know: Instead of scholarship caps, each sport will have a limit on the number of players on a roster. For football, the number is expected to drop from its current level (85 scholarships plus another 20 or 30 walk-ons).

What’s unclear: What’s the limit?

Why we don’t know what we don’t know: It simply hasn’t been agreed upon, and SEC commissioner Greg Sankey suggested there could be wiggle room in the final answer. Until then, this was coaches’ No. 1 concern. They’re hosting recruiting visits this weekend for the 2025 class without knowing how many players can be on their 2025 roster.

“You just have this swirling unknown,” Texas A&M coach Mike Elko said.

Everything else

What we know: College football has a lot of lingering issues to address, from small (whether the SEC should add a ninth conference game and mandate injury reports) to big (shrinking a non-stop recruiting calendar, slowing roster movement).

What’s unclear: How and when any of them will be addressed, including whether Congress will intervene.

Why we don’t know what we don’t know: Though many of these issues directly affect fans and the on-field product, there’s no bandwidth to discuss them, much less fix them.

“At some point, you’ve got to solve the bigger problems or the big questions to really put together what’s the best way for the game to move forward,” Heupel said.

After days of meetings, those big questions have only led to more.

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