In January of 2015, the NCAA voted to let its major conferences broaden their definition of “college scholarship”—allowing them to give their athletes a small cost-of-attendance stipend for travel and other expenses, in addition to tuition and room and board.
Now, thanks to a new $208 million settlement in a class-action lawsuit, some college athletes who played before those cost-of-attendance stipends will be reimbursed for what they missed out on. The deal still must be approved by a federal judge, but as it stands now, basketball and football players who spent four years in college athletics at any point after 2009 can receive an average of $6,800. Given that these stipends rarely exceed more than a few thousand dollars, if that, the average payout seems in line with what players are getting now—which is to say, not very much over the course of four years and certainly not something at all commensurate with the amount of labor put in or how much the NCAA is profiting from it. (Both men’s and women’s basketball players are eligible. Athletes who spent less than four years in college sports will be eligible for a smaller sum prorated to their time in school.)
This payout only represents one piece of the lawsuit, however, and this tiny victory does not seem to make the NCAA more likely to concede anything else. The end goal of this class-action suit is for athletes to be paid fairly for their work, and in the same press release that acknowledges their $208 million loss, the NCAA notes they’ll be loath to give up much more: “The NCAA and conferences will continue to vigorously oppose the remaining portion of the lawsuit seeking pay for play,” it reads, adding that compensation would “dismantle college sports.”