COVID, legislation, lawsuits signal change in college sports


FILE – In this March 12, 2020, file photo, Madison Square Garden in New York sits empty after NCAA college basketball games in the men’s Big East Conference tournament were cancelled due to concerns about the coronavirus. With the virus raging in March, several conferences called off their postseason basketball tournaments, and the NCAA canceled the billion-dollar bonanza known as March Madness, proceeds from which trickle down in some form to almost every Division I school in America.
(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

The coronavirus was only one factor in a chain of events that consumed college sports in 2020, and is poised to do more of the same in 2021 and beyond.

The virus, combined with the harsh spotlight that shone on racial inequality in the United States, further exposed the exploitative side of a system that relies heavily on Black football players to bring in the bucks.

Against that backdrop, dueling tranches of legislation and litigation landed in the highest reaches of Washington — in Congress and the Supreme Court — at year’s end, fueling a growing sense that the status quo is about to be upended.

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