Will College Athletes Make Money? Here’s Where the Debate Stands.

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Some athletics administrators and legislators still believe that officials in Washington could reach an accord before the state laws start taking effect on July 1. Others are far more doubtful and, the panicked warnings of college sports executives notwithstanding, say they are unbothered by the possibility of a little chaos and confusion.

Yes, and the association has refused to rule out that possibility. In an interview in May, Mark Emmert, the association’s president, declined to discuss the N.C.A.A.’s legal strategy.

“We’re waiting to see what happens with Congress and working our way through that,” he said.

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The N.C.A.A. successfully batted down a state challenge to its authority in the early 1990s. That case, though, involved a single state law, and experts have cautioned that fighting the assorted statutes now would mean a multifront battle with potentially uneven results.

Some stars, particularly in football and basketball, could make millions. But many more college athletes, including plenty in those same sports, could likely generate thousands or tens of thousands of dollars in earnings. Some won’t make any money. The laws do not guarantee any deals; they just make them possible.

Jim Cavale, the chief executive of INFLCR, an Alabama firm that many schools have hired to help students understand the rules and opportunities, said he generally thinks of players in three categories. One bucket includes the mega stars of college sports who will strike the biggest deals with the biggest companies. The largest group includes talented athletes who are particularly savvy with technology and are positioned to capitalize, mainly through their online presences. The third segment includes players who will be more likely to cut a gift card deal, with, say, a local pizzeria.

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How much all of them will make, though, could shift over time.

“This whole thing is going to be evolved through the data of what happens,” Cavale said.

Take your pick of explanations. A crucial one is that, for reasons as much financial and legal as philosophical, it took a lot of college sports leaders a long time to warm up to the idea that students should be allowed to earn more than what it costs to attend school.

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