A University of Miami graduate may have just solved one of the hottest issues in sports right now: if, how, and when NCAA athletes should get paid by utilizing crowdfunding and Venmo into one distinct app. As it stands NO student athletes are getting paid even though they bring in nearly immeasurable revenue to their schools. A very small percentage of these student athletes go on to play professional sports, sometimes due to injury, other times due to lack of talent, but upon graduation the only compensation student athletes receive for their work is a diploma (just like the rest of us).
Enter Rob Wyant, University of Miami graduate and co-founder of the wildly successful chat app Yapper (if you’re not using Yapper yet get on that so you’re not the last person on the bus!!!). Rob thinks he might have found a loophole around the NCAA restrictions on athletes getting paid, and he’s launched an app that incorporates Venmo and crowdfunding to make sure the athletes are getting their proper compensation. I spoke with Rob and he shot me over an email detailing how this app will work:
Problem: A solution to the long-standing national debate of whether college football players should get paid. The app does this by crowdfunding the campaign through Venmo.
Logistics: We ran down the top college football players from 73 different schools (spanning 10 conferences) and created 79 Venmo Accounts — each tied to a different college football player.
How It Works: Venmo has a public feed where you can see all of your friends’ transactions, so once a college student pays their school’s star RB for scoring a touchdown (can be as little as $0.01), all of their friends will see that transaction. Just like twitter, they can put whatever witty message or hashtag they want — making the transaction inherently viral.
Controversy: We would love to just give the username/password to each individual player or have them create their own Venmo profiles so they can directly profit from the funds. Unfortunately, this is sort-of against NCAA Bylaw 12.1.1 (Amateur Status) so we decided to open-source the code instead. We won’t take a penny from this; our intention is to simply add fuel to the conversation by leveraging the tech that is readily prevalent right now.
Where Does The Money Go: To peel back the story a bit further, the fact that the players aren’t endorsing or promoting anything adds an interesting level of uncertainty. A third party (in this case, “Venbot”) controls the Venmo accounts and thus controls the funds raised. In an ideal world, the player would get the username/password if they graduate with a college degree or if they never make it to the NFL. If, however, they leave school early to sign with the NFL, the right thing to do would be to donate the funds to a charity of the player’s choosing. Without going too far down the ‘where do the funds go’ rabbit-hole, it’s important to reiterate that we will donate 100% of the money — where it goes is still very much TBD but it will be some form of charity.
Conclusion: This app solves a big problem. The solution isn’t perfect, but it’s a very explosive idea. Simply put, Venbot gives fans a direct channel to touch the lives of their favorite players. We couldn’t be more excited to see the impact that college fans can make!
To synthesize that a little the app essentially works like this: if you think that an athlete deserves to be paid and you want to be part of the solution you can make a public Venmo payment that will essentially sit in escrow until that athlete graduates, and upon graduation the athlete will be given access to his/her Venmo account. It’s certainly not THE solution, but it’s definitely an solution…At least until the NCAA figures all of this shit out.
The app was borne out of a General Assembly course, and for those of you that aren’t familiar with GA it’s essentially a center for high-level ongoing education in the field of tech (coding, programming, etc). This app in particular, the one that might solve the issue of NCAA athletes not getting paid, actually lives as a subset within General Assembly’s Swift Guild App, an app that showcases the latest and greatest from General Assembly graduates. So in order to make a donation to the athletes from the school of your choosing you get to the app from within Swift Guild.
And as I mentioned before, this app is the brainchild of the same mastermind behind Yapper, a location based chat app. Say you’re at a football game and want to talk stats with fellow fans you an pop open Yapper and talk with likeminded individuals. It’s definitely taking off and something you should check out (click here to head over to iTunes). In the meantime, I’m curious what you bros think about the NCAA app? Answers down below in the comments.