Billion-dollar settlement will now allow schools like Ohio State, Florida State, LSU, and Alabama to pay players directly

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Credit: Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

NCAA sports was likely changed forever on Thursday when schools from the five powerhouse conferences like Ohio State, Penn State, Florida State, and LSU agreed to a landmark settlement that will see them pay their student-athletes directly.

Name, image, and likeness (NIL) rules have had a major impact on college sports over the last few years. After decades of athletes getting the short end of the revenue stick in NCAA sports, they were finally able to leverage their abilities to land big-money contracts before moving on to the pro level.

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Unsurprisingly, many educational institutions and the coaches in them were not fans of how NIL rules shifted the game in unexpected ways. However, college athletics had another paradigm shift moment on Thursday night when ESPN reported “The NCAA and its five power conferences have agreed to allow schools to directly pay players for the first time in the 100-plus-year history of college sports.”

The multi-billion dollar agreement reportedly will end three pending federal antitrust lawsuits and see the NCAA pay current and past players $2.7 billion in damages over the next 10 years. The crux of the deal may also shift the focus of the sport away from NIL deals a bit as the agreement reportedly will also include a “revenue-sharing plan allowing each school to share up to roughly $20 million per year with its athletes.”

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“The five autonomy conferences and the NCAA agreeing to settlement terms is an important step in the continuing reform of college sports that will provide benefits to student-athletes and provide clarity in college athletics across all divisions for years to come.”

“This settlement is also a road map for college sports leaders and Congress to ensure this uniquely American institution can continue to provide unmatched opportunity for millions of students. All of Division I made today’s progress possible, and we all have work to do to implement the terms of the agreement as the legal process continues. We look forward to working with our various student-athlete leadership groups to write the next chapter of college sports.”

– NCAA president Charlie Baker and the five power conference commissioners statement

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One major hurdle remains in the deal and that is for Judge Claudia Wilken to approve the agreement. She is overseeing all three pending antitrust suits against the NCAA. The process is expected to take several months, which means schools probably won’t start paying student-athletes until the fall of 2025.

The NCAA and the Power 5 schools have been lobbying Congress for months in the leadup to getting this deal done.

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