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Survey Reveals AD Preference for Higher-Ed Model

Jason Scott

LEAD1, the association representing the 130 Football Bowl Subdivision athletics directors, conducted a survey of more than 100 of those athletics directors to understand their opinions on legislation under consideration at the state and federal levels that would impact collegiate athletics.

According to a release on the results, respondents were asked which of two models they would prefer to be in place five years from now: a professional/commercial model or a higher education model.

LEAD1 describes a professional/commercial model as one in which student-athletes would be treated as employees, with full rights to their name, image and likeness. They’d also have access to workers’ compensation, the ability to collectively bargain and other employment rights. This model would have strong Title IX compliance, as well as allow for the possibility of revenue sharing for football and basketball student-athletes.

Meanwhile, the higher education model as described by LEAD1 would grant the NCAA conditional antitrust protection, allowing it and athletics conferences to negotiate and execute policies aimed at lowering compensation and buyouts, as well as cooling the facilities arms race. This model would seek to enhance investment in Olympic and non-revenue sports, as well as in health, safety and scholarship protections. Title IX compliance would remain strong, and student-athletes under this model would be granted NIL rights, but not the ability to collectively bargain. 

Among the more than 100 ADs surveyed, LEAD1 reports that 96 percent preferred the higher education model.

“As an Association, we felt it necessary to share the results of this survey due to the misconception of where our member athletics directors stand on the issue of NIL and the future of college sports,” said LEAD1 president and CEO Tom McMillen. “What this survey demonstrates is our schools’ willingness to reduce spending and create additional opportunities for student-athletes if given the proper tools by lawmakers. Clearly, our athletics directors would rather see college sports de-professionalized rather than fully professionalized.”

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