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NCAA Pay-to-Play Could Impact Female Athletics

By Rebecca Donaldson
Journalism Student

The NCAA announced recently that beginning in January 2023, collegiate athletes can earn a profit based on their name, likeness and image. If the legislation is written a particular way, this could negatively impact female athletics on college campuses.

Title IX is a federal law that prevents gender discrimination on college campuses. However, if the legislation for pay-to-play is written in a way that profits are unrestrained, it’s more likely to be funneled towards revenue-producing teams.

Many teams regardless of gender could be impacted financially.

“Am I worried about equity? Yeah, and it’s not just Title IX. Its equity across programs that are very different in that regard,” said Lynette Johnson, Deputy Athletic Director at Ole Miss.

Johnson oversees gender equity at the University. She says that since she’s the gender equality representative for Ole Miss, there will be many conversations to make sure all sports are equally earning a profit.

The NCAA hasn’t decided yet what the rules for college athletes earning a profit will be.

Female athletes have had mixed opinions on the idea of being paid to play.

“If they keep in mind female sports and don’t, you know, start cutting back in the budget… I think it could be a really beneficial thing to all athletes,” Channing Foster, a student-athlete, said.

Foster is a prominent member of the soccer team, recently becoming the seventh student in program history to be named All-SEC for the third time. She still has concerns about being underrepresented as a female athlete.

“If it’s the same amount of money but they’re funneling strictly to those specific athletes, yeah that would cause a lot of budget cuts for the female sports and that’s definitely a scary thought,” Foster said.

There are also positives to the proposal. Female athletes could be given a fully equal opportunity to earn profit.

Ole Miss softball player Abbey Latham says that she thinks there will always be some sort of gender wage gap in athletics but is excited to see what could happen.

“A lot of female athletes are really good at what they do and are very talented but don’t get enough credit some of the time, so I feel like this would be something that could bring more attention to them,” Latham said.

Jessica Puk, also a member of the softball team, emphasized the importance of female representation in athletics and said she’s excited about the news.

“I think it brings light to female athletes, and I know a lot of female sports are growing right now. I can say specifically for softball, for us, our sport is growing year-to-year and I think it brings more attention to females and the talent that we have,” Puk said.

All three athletes said that they hadn’t heard much about the announcement. They said what knowledge they had was from social media and that the team wasn’t discussing it.

Specifics from the NCAA have not yet emerged regarding how, or when, student-athletes will become employees. 

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