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Bowl Leaders Optimistic CBA Will Lower Number of Opt-Outs: Report

As we move closer to the reality that college athletes will be included in revenue sharing in the future, there appears to be optimism among bowl leaders that a potential collective bargaining agreement with the players could help to lower the number of opt-outs in bowl season.

Over the last several years, bowl season has lost much of its allure after players with NFL futures started to opt out of “meaningless” bowl games. If a team doesn’t make the College Football Playoff, there’s a good chance that their best players will sit out of the games to avoid injury ahead of the draft process.

Well, with the ever-changing world of the transfer portal and NIL, there appears to be a silver lining on the horizon.

 

According to ESPN’s Heather Dinich, folks in the business of bowl games are seeing a real opportunity arise. Nick Carparelli, the executive director of Bowl Season, told Dinich that his understanding is that NIL collectives are on their way to becoming in-house institutions with their respective schools. Theoretically, this would present a chance for contractual obligations to be exchanged for NIL payments.

“If you sign a contract and receive compensation, you’re obligated to perform certain duties — in this case, play 12 regular-season games and a bowl game or a bowl game and the playoff,” Carparelli told ESPN. “That’s logical to expect. It’s the way the rest of us working folks operate.”

Erik Moses, the Fiesta Bowl executive director and CEO, added that the bowl season product is better when the best players in the sport are a part of it. He also notes that with the risk of playing, there should absolutely be a reward tied to participation.

 

“Think about the industry that we’re in,” Moses told ESPN. “We put on live events. You come to see the talent. If the main talent isn’t there — you go see the Stones and Mick Jagger’s not playing, are you really seeing the Stones? We want the best talent to be involved in those matchups and those games and those events. That’s what people are paying to see.

“Yes, they care about the name on the front of the jersey probably more than the name on the back; that’s the special thing about college sports and college football,” he said. “But you want to see the best guys play, and I think the only way we get to that is through a collective bargaining agreement and employment contracts that require you to play in the postseason if you’re healthy.”

In addition to the hopes that CBAs will help lower opt-outs, Moses also said that he expects the new 12-team playoff to help lower the opt-outs as well.

“You’re not just coming to the Fiesta Bowl to win the Fiesta Bowl and that’s it,” he said. “Now, you’re going to abandon your brothers, your teammates when you have a chance to win the national championship? That’s something those guys remember for the rest of their lives. You’re a part of history at that point.”

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