College athletic directors overwhelmingly reject professional model in survey

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According to a recent survey, college athletic directors overwhelmingly rejected a model that mirrors professional leagues when they were asked to pick a scenario they preferred for the future of college sports.

The Lead1 Association, which represents the more than 130 athletic directors at Football Bowl Subdivision programs, surveyed more than 100 athletic directors. Based on recent legislation that has been introduced in Congress and in some states, the survey asked the athletic directors to pick between one of two models for what their preference would be for the future of college sports in five years.

The first model was based on a professional structure in which student athletes would be treated as employees with full name, image and likeness (NIL) rights, would have the ability to collectively bargain, to be eligible for workers' compensation and would even have the possibility for revenue sharing with basketball and football players. Title IX compliance would also be a significant part of this model.

University logos cover a wall in the lobby of NCAA headquarters Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021, in Indianapolis.

The second, "higher education model," wouldn't have any collective bargaining or other employment rights and would require the granting of antitrust protection by Congress that would allow the NCAA and its respective conferences to negotiate and enact policies designed to lower compensation, buyouts and the race to build state-of-the-art facilities. This option more heavily invested in Olympic and non-revenue sports and would expand health and scholarship protections, full NIL rights and would also have strong Title IX compliance.

Approximately 96% of the more than 100 athletic directors surveyed said they 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,"  LEAD1 president and CEO Tom McMillen said Tuesday in a release. 

"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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