to not advocate paying these players market rates. It honestly does.
I see the issues as follows:
1. Most of these players simply aren't worth $100,000+ (the value of a a full ride, training, housing, nutrition, facility use, etc, etc) on a free market. Johnny Manziel or Marcus Mariota might be worth millions, but the nickel for NC State who sees spot duty from time to time would be lucky to make $30,000 on an open market. Those types of kids far, far outnumber the Amari Coopers of the world. A nineteen year old kid without a college degree and any discernible skills other than playing football is not going to get paid very much, especially when the labor market (quality high school players) is so very large. I think minor league baseball is illustrative here - a lot of those guys outside of AAA don't do very well. Again, much of the value is tied up in the institutions and not the players themselves.
2. It will never be a real open market. It is a single cartel that owns the entirety of high level amateur football. If there were competing organizations, then it could maybe work (and would jack the value up for the players)...provided those separate organizations didn't collude like cable companies.
3. The fact that only 15 or 20 schools could really compete. If that's what we want, then fine, but it'd dramatically alter the landscape of American universities.
4. Title IX is a big, bad, 800 pound gorilla lurking in the background of all this. The issues here are myriad, but I just don't ever see Congress walking back any of Title IX just for football.
Maybe a real minor league (where you can enter at age 18) is the solution ¯_(ツ)_/¯. Have the rules be like baseball - you can enter at age 18 or go to college for three years. Lifetime health policies for college players. Maybe the solution is to have market rates and have only fifteen or twenty superpower programs that play each other.