Big Ten Players Wonder Where They Fit Into a $1 Billion TV Deal

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Xavier Johnson, a point guard on the basketball team at Indiana University, echoed Stroud. Johnson said that players’ getting a “small percentage” of the billion-dollar deal would be fair. “People only come in to watch the players play,” he said.

Brooks supports athletes earning a portion of the multibillion dollar deal. Still, she said, she’s not sure where gymnastics would fit in with sports like football and basketball. “Yes, we can have a piece of that pie, but I think my thing is football and basketball should get it before we do,” Brooks said, “just because when you look at the numbers, those are the athletes that are bringing in all that viewership.”

Player pay is far from a done deal, of course. Gene Smith, Ohio State’s athletic director, told reporters on Thursday that student-athletes are already paid in the “aggregate” in the form of help they receive from trainers, strength coaches, sports psychologists, nutritionists and academic counselors.

“Frankly, they’re already getting a piece of the television revenue,” Smith said. “So they actually already get a piece. It might not be directly in their pocket, but it’s an investment in them.”

Though schools may choose to do more in the future for student-athletes, “not in the form of pay-for-play,” he said. “Otherwise, I’m out.”

Even if the Big Ten’s new deal doesn’t result in direct payments to students, some athletes were hopeful that it would increase the opportunities now available to them to capitalize on their name, image and likeness. Brooks thought more TV viewership could help athletes with their visibility, which could increase their opportunities for N.I.L. deals.

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