National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) football is planning to expand playoffs from four teams to 12. While this means lucrative media rights deals for the NCAA, one coach thought players should benefit as well.
What Happened: In the 2021 NCAA college football season, the University of Michigan Wolverines made the playoffs. The team is also expected to be a favorite to make the playoffs for the 2022 season, ranked fourth in the latest AP poll.
Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh believes players on teams that make the playoffs should share a financial benefit the NCAA currently gets and will receive in the future.
The NCAA is expanding the college football playoffs from four teams to 12 teams as early as the 2024 season. The new format will see the six highest-ranked conference champions along with six at-large bid teams making the playoffs. The four highest-ranked conference champions will receive first-round byes.
The expansion is expected to be lucrative for the NCAA with reports the new format could get more than $2 billion annually for the media rights to the college football playoffs, compared to the $470 million currently paid by Walt Disney Co DIS unit ESPN.
ESPN and Fox Corp FOX were named as the companies expected to bid on the expanded rights, Front Office Sports reported.
ESPN estimated it covers 63% of all college football viewing for the 18 to 49 age demographic, giving it strong leverage with advertisers. The company will likely be an aggressive bidder on the new college football playoff rights, with some believing the NCAA will split them between companies for more revenue.
ESPN has the rights through 2025 and could have first rights in the expanded field if it starts as early as 2024, according to the report.
Why It’s Important: Harbaugh recently voiced his support for the expanded playoffs field, something that could help out the Wolverines, who have barely missed the cut in several years.
“All for it,” Harbaugh said.
In 2021, the NCAA adopted a policy on athletes being able to receive money from their name, image and likeness, commonly referred to as NIL. Harbaugh thinks athletes should be paid based on the playoffs as part of this initiative.
“I think you know exactly where I stand on that,” Harbaugh said, as reported by 247sports. “Well documented that I do believe the players should receive a revenue share from the massive TV deals that have worked out.”
Harbaugh said television deals should be part of the payment to players. The comments came after the Big Ten, which counts Michigan as a member, just signed a new seven-year deal with Fox, Paramount Global PARAPARAA unit CBS and Comcast Corporation CMCSA unit NBC for $7 billion.
“It’s seven-point something billion. A lot of billions. It’s a lot of money. Yeah, I think the players should receive a revenue share,” he said.
The bowl games and college football playoffs have been a subject of contention over players not being paid. Some players who are expected to be high draft picks have chosen to sit out the postseason in fear of injury and hurting future income.
The expanded field could add to the number of games teams play, which could prompt more attention to players not getting paid.
Players in the NFL receive compensation for making the NFL Playoffs with Spotrac reporting the following for the 2022 season:
First Round: $41,500
Divisional Playoff: $46,500
Conference Championship Game: $69,000
Super Bowl loss: $82,000
Super Bowl win: $157,000
Sports leagues often get additional revenue for their postseason matches, which have stronger viewership figures. Players are compensated for reaching the postseason, something the NCAA might have to consider going forward.
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