Little League Baseball CEO Steve Keener suggested that Little Leaguers who appear on national television could get some compensation in the future.
“I’ve always felt we need to be as progressive an organization as we can,” he told Yahoo Sports. “We don’t know what’s coming. If at some point in time that would be deemed to be appropriate, we’ll consider it. At the moment, I don’t see the necessity and don’t think we should be compensating kids right now.
Little League Baseball reportedly signed an eight-year deal with ESPN worth $76 million, and Keener said, “whether at some point down the road any funds could be put aside to help them with college I don’t know. Down the road that’s something we might take a look at even if it’s feasible.”
Keener reportedly “made $430,844 in salary and benefits between October 2012 and September 2013, and was one of seven employees with six-figure compensation packages,” according to Yahoo Sports. In addition, “Little League paid a Connecticut company called SJX Partners $472,062 last year for a ‘corporate sponsor search,'” and critics have said they could use some of that money to set up scholarship funds for players who make it to Williamsport.
A federal judge recently found that the NCAA was in violation of antitrust laws by not compensating players for certain uses of their images and likeness. Ed O’Bannon, the lead plaintiff in that case, testified that he felt that Little Leaguers should be compensated if networks are profiting off of them.
This year, the issue came to the fore after, as Yahoo Sports noted, Mo’ne Davis, the 13-year-old female pitcher from South Philadelphia’s Taney Dragons, “drew a higher rating for ESPN than any MLB game since April 2007” in her last game. She was the first Little Leaguer to make the cover of Sports Illustrated. She has endorsement opportunities on the table, but her family will not accept any because it may jeopardize her dream of playing college basketball for the UConn Huskies.