In the aftermath of Super Bowl XLIX, fans, pundits, and social media commentators have been abuzz about the miraculous end zone interception that guaranteed the New England Patriots their fourth Lombardi trophy over defending champions, the Seattle Seahawks. While the game and the extraordinary interception will go down in gridiron history, it was the events and social commentary that preceded the big game that may shed the most light on the rapidly-evolving business of college football and the future of the sport as we know it.

In a Super Bowl week press conference, notoriously outspoken Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman and Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett made the compelling case for why the time has come to pay college athletes. Sherman and Bennett spoke candidly about the time constraints student athletes face and emphasized the blatant fallacy in the belief that these athletes are “on scholarship for school.”

While the 2014-2015 football season has come to a close, the debate regarding college athlete compensation is far from over. For evidence of this hotly contested issue and the drastically changing landscape of college sports, look no further than the federal courts. Last year, after the National Labor Relations Board determined that a group of Northwestern football players were entitled to the right to unionize and bargain collectively, O’Bannon v. NCAA held that rules prohibiting the compensation of college athletes for the use of their names, images, and likenesses “unreasonably restrained trade” in violation of antitrust laws. Although O’Bannon did not necessarily usher in an era of “pay-for-play” in college athletics, in allowing universities to compensate athletes through trust funds, O’Bannon is indisputably a step in the direction of authorizing college football programs to operate more like a free market economy and less like modern-day indentured servitude.

In the upcoming months, the courts will continue to grapple with the employment rights of college players. Renowned antitrust/labor lawyer Jeffrey Kessler is currently litigating the potentially groundbreaking case of Jenkins v. NCAA. Jenkins will determine whether the current athletic scholarship model effectively amounts to an impermissible price fixing restraint on athlete compensation. In short, Jenkins can completely undermine what Seahawks’ Michael Bennett called “one of the biggest scams in America,” and open up a free market for college football and men’s basketball players.

As the euphoria of Wednesday’s National Signing Day looms, the question remains whether the NCAA will agree to a plan to compensate these college athletes for a fraction of the obscene amount of the money that these students bring to their institutions, conferences, and the NCAA organization. Whether the NCAA will finally abolish its antiquated model that disproportionately exploits the talents of lower-income, minority male athletes remains unclear. What does seem to be clear however, is that the answers to these questions will likely be handed down by our federal courts long before the NCAA willingly acquiesces.

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