College ADs Reject Hypothetical Compensation Model for Student-Athletes

March 11, 2021 / Athletic Administration
The results of a recent survey show college athletic directors drastically rejected a hypothetical model that would mirror professional leagues in terms of compensation.

The LEAD1 Association, which represents the athletics directors of the 130-member schools of the Football Bowl Subdivision, recently surveyed more than 100 of its FBS athletics directors on the future of college sports in light of recent college sports bills introduced in Congress and state legislatures.

modelThe survey asked which of two scenarios would be preferred five years from now – a “Professional/Commercial Model” or “Higher Education Model.”

The first scenario, which the survey coined as a “Professional/Commercial Model,” would include student-athletes being treated as employees with full NIL rights, as well as rights to collectively bargain, workers’ compensation, and other employment rights. Under this model, there would also be strong Title IX compliance, and possible revenue sharing with basketball and football student-athletes.

The second scenario, a “Higher Education Model,” would involve the granting of conditional antitrust protection by Congress to allow the NCAA and conferences to negotiate and carry out policies predicated on significantly lowering compensation, buyouts, and the facilities arms race. This model would also include a greater investment in Olympic and non-revenue sports, expanded health, safety, and scholarship protections, full NIL rights, as well as strong Title IX compliance, but no collective bargaining or other employment rights.

Of the more than 100 LEAD1 athletics directors surveyed, approximately 96 percent voted in favor of the “Higher Education Model,” as opposed to the alternative “Professional/Commercial 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 & 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.”

About the LEAD1 Association: LEAD1 represents the athletics directors of the 130 member universities of the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS). Keys to the LEAD1 mission are influencing how the rules of college sports are enacted and implemented, advocating for the future of college athletics, and providing various services to our member schools. For more information, please visit