NCAA President Mark Emmert says member schools might reconsider allowing college athletes who compete in the Olympics to accept payments for performance.
The NCAA rules allow athletes to accept money for training from the U.S. Olympic Committee or similar organizations in other countries along with national sports governing bodies. Athletes can also keep bonuses given for winning medals. A gold medal was worth $25,000 for U.S. athletes in Rio. A silver paid $15,000 and a bronze $10,000.
For some countries, the payments are much greater. Swimmer Joseph Schooling, who attends the University of Texas and competes for Singapore, received more than $750,000 for winning gold in the 100 butterfly.
Emmert said Thursday during an interview with Aspen Institute that amount was far more than what NCAA membership had in mind.
“To be perfectly honest, it’s caused everybody to say, ‘Oh, well that’s not really what we were thinking about,'” Emmert said. “So I don’t know where the members will go on that. That’s a little different than 15 grand for the silver medal for swimming for the US of A. So I think it’s going to stimulate a very interesting conversation.”
The NCAA has been OK with the USOC’s bonus program since 2001. In 2015, it allowed for athletes to accept similar bonuses from other countries.
“The question is whether that person is still an amateur,” Emmert said about the large bonuses. “Because if they competed in South Africa and (got) paid $750,000 to play ball in South Africa, they would be declared a professional athlete and be not eligible for NCAA play. That’s the fundamental problem.”