They take to the field week after week, playing for the love of the game and the chance at a future of making money in the sport. But now, a new ruling could change the motive behind which college.
At Ohio Stadium, football players have been amateurs for 100 years. But a new court decision is changing that status.
It is a welcome change for one former Buckeye.
10 years ago, Ohio State University safety Brandon Mitchell made plenty highlights. Videogame makers also made plenty of money by using the likeness of athletes like Mitchell.
"My first year playing, I had long hair and had long hair on the NCAA video game. (Then I) cut my hair. Next year, I had shorter hair (in the game),” Mitchell explains.
He says at first, he thought it was pretty cool to be on a video game, but the game maker never paid him, or any other college athlete. Mitchell says he started thinking about that once he got to the NFL and watched players there get paid to be for being on a different video game.
Former college athlete Ed O’Bannon also thought about it a lot more. The former UCLA basketball great sued the NCAA because it failed to pay him for appearing in the video game. Last Friday, a federal judge on the west coast ruled in O'Bannon's favor. Now, athletes will get paid for video game and broadcast rights – something Brandon Mitchell feels is a good start.
Meanwhile, Columbus sports agent Adam Heller says the decision starts to fix an unfair system. "Everybody gets paid a competitive wage that's decided by a free market place - everyone but the players,” says Heller.
He says now that college players can get paid, it might eliminate the problems that caused tattoo-gate, cost a bowl game and cost a famous coach his job.
"All of those were a product of those things that needed to change, and now we are seeing that system start to change.”
The change will apply to NCAA Division One schools only. The change will go into effect in 2016; however the ruling is likely to be appealed.
It remains unclear how athletes will be compensated.