The Student-Athlete: An NCAA False Claim

According to Walter Byers, who served as NCAA executive director from 1951 to 1987, the term ‘student-athlete’ was coined by the NCAA in the 1950s to counter the threat that its newly implemented play-for-pay, grant-in-aid athletic scholarship policy could result in NCAA athletes being considered paid employees by Workers Compensation Boards and the courts. The term was immediately embedded in all NCAA rules and interpretations as a mandated substitute for words such as players and athletes.  Subsequently, NCAA marketing and PR departments have effectively branded the term to serve the public relations and advertising needs of the NCAA. It is apparent that the term is now used – mantra-like – by NCAA officials in speeches and interviews, as well as in NCAA press releases and other official communications as a means of brand extension.

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