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TCU to participate at highest level in ‘unprecedented’ revenue-sharing model for student athlete

Texas Christian University's Amon G. Carter Stadium hosts the TCU football team.
Courtesy photo
Texas Christian University's Amon G. Carter Stadium hosts the TCU football team.

Texas Christian University will continue competing at the highest level across college athletics.

In a June 28 response to the recent $2.8 billion NCAA settlement, which paves the way for colleges to directly pay their student athletes, TCU provided insight into how it plans to navigate the new collegiate athletics landscape.

On Friday, in a newsletter written by athletic director Jeremiah Donati, TCU confirmed its commitment to fully engage with the settlement’s provisions, emphasizing its intent to participate at the highest permissible level in the revenue-sharing plan. TCU is a member of the Big 12 conference, which is one of four power conferences nationwide.

The settlement has “unprecedented” implications for Division I institutions, which are poised to reshape college sports by addressing past grievances and implementing forward-looking changes, Duane Miller, a Texas attorney who works on name, image and likeness issues with college student athletes, previously told the Fort Worth Report.

Schools in the Big 12, Big Ten, Atlantic Coast and Southeastern conferences will end up bearing the brunt of the settlement, the majority of which will be paid to athletes going forward.

The Pac-12 is also part of the settlement, even though Washington State University and Oregon State University will be the only league members left by this fall after the other 10 schools leave for other conferences.

In the new compensation model, each school will be permitted, but not required, to set aside up to $21 million in revenue to share with athletes per year. As revenues rise, so could the cap.

While TCU recognizes the financial implications and projects an annual expense of over $20 million, the investment aligns with the university’s broader vision for its athletics program, Donati said.

“At TCU, athletics serves as the front porch of our university,” Donati wrote. “We are committed to maintaining TCU’s position as a member of the top echelon of athletics — competitive at the highest level. Our athletics programs add value to TCU’s reputation as a leading university, enhance student recruitment efforts and help define TCU’s unrivaled student experience.”

From June 2022 to June 2023, TCU spent $149.3 million on athletics, according to federal data.

The specifics of revenue distribution, including the timeline and mechanisms, are still under deliberation. TCU plans to address these details in the coming year, aiming to maximize the benefits for its student athletes.

“Many questions, however, do remain and we will need time to work out many details,” Donati wrote. “For example, how and when we distribute that revenue remains unclear at the moment.”

Donati also highlighted the importance of continued support from the university’s NIL collective, the Flying T Club, and similar collectives, which have funneled millions of dollars to the university since the advent of NIL.

“Even with this new industry model, the Flying T Club and collectives across the country are not going away. They will just look different – but they will still be a major part of collegiate athletics,” Donati wrote.

He compared the settlement to the landmark Title IX legislation of 1972 in terms of its potential to transform collegiate athletics.

“Just like in any business or walk of life, change can bring new opportunities. Maximizing as many of those as possible for our student-athletes is vital,” Donati wrote.

As TCU and other institutions continue to adapt, Donati anticipates further clarity on several issues, including the potential involvement of Congress in supporting these changes.

The University of Texas at Arlington, another Division I institution in Tarrant County, has yet to decide the extent of its participation in the settlement’s provisions. UTA is still evaluating the financial and logistical impacts of the revenue-sharing model and other elements of the settlement, according to a statement from UTA Athletics.

“UTA is more like Houston Christian University than TCU,” Michael LeRoy, a law professor at the College of Law at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who specializes in labor issues affecting professional and collegiate athletes, told the Fort Worth Report.

Last week, Houston Christian University filed a motion to oppose the settlement.

“I expect more small schools to oppose the settlement,” LeRoy said.

LeRoy further noted that the chasm in financial support and competition between large and small schools will likely grow as a result.

As a member of the Western Athletic Conference, it is unclear if UTA’s Athletics Department will be allowed to enter into its own revenue-sharing model. From June 2022 to June 2023, UTA spent $17.4 million on athletics.

Fort Worth Report journalist Shomial Ahmad contributed to the reporting of this story.

Matthew Sgroi is an education reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at matthew.sgroi@fortworthreport.org or @MatthewSgroi1. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

This article first appeared on Fort Worth Report and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Copyright 2024 KERA

Matthew Sgroi | Fort Worth Report