• phil cantor/@osgphil

Does Anyone Really Know What California's "Fair Pay to Play" Law Means for the NCAA?



So----for those of you not aware, the State of California has passed a law which will require Universities to pay athletes for the use of their name, likeness and images in any form of marketing or promotion.


There's a lot more to California SB 206, which will go into effect in 2023. You can read the whole thing at the underlined link if you'd like.


Needless to say, the NCAA and most of their "Member Institutions" are less than pleased about all of this. However a ton of professional athletes and people of note have sung the praises of the bill which on some levels would in theory make College Athletes paid employees.


It opens up a huge can of worms--but one which in reality does need to be addressed.


Thus far the responses by the NCAA and other conferences hasn't been good. Threats have been made to banish all California schools because they'd be considered "Professional".




The SEC was a bit less direct---but still voiced concern...



Here's the deal, I don't have intimate knowledge of the NCAA's thought process, so it is a best guess:


---The NCAA has always been on the side of not allowing players to make money. Period. They've penalized players repeatedly for trying to make, well, anything more than the cost of their scholarship. Which to most big time College Football and Basketball players is nothing. Yeah, sure, the players get "Free" room and board, meals and don't have to pay tuition for classes. Whoop dee do! When these rules were put in place, the NCAA and it's member Universities were not making millions upon millions on the sale of jersey's and other merchandise with player names on them.


In the pros, a percentage of that money goes to the athlete.


Is it something that would impact "Most" NCAA Athletes? No. You probably are not talking about much money for merchandise from the Swim team. But for the Alabama's, Clemson's or Ohio State's of the world, you're talking about the biggest of biggest name athletes essentially functioning as a marketing tool for the schools.


Said marketing tool makes far more money for the University than the cost of attendance.


Oh, by the way---if you are an "Old School" type saying the athletes get a "Free Ride", yeah, semantically they do. However the cost of their attendance has ZERO impact on the schools.


That's right: There is ZERO cost impact to the schools. The school is not "paying" the cost of an athlete to attend---that is not how budgeting works. The money is spoken for via funds in the athletic association. Yes, that's right. The school is not spending any money to have a scholarship athlete. The cost of athlete attendance is not likely a line in any big Univesity's budget. Why would it be? This eliminates the premise of scholarships being "Paid for" by schools.


--When you go to the school bookstore or favorite Sporting Goods store or even go online an by your "Justin Fields" jersey or "Tua Tagaliavoa" jersey, neither player sees a penny of that money. It all goes to the University and NCAA. Which is in my mind, the reason this is and will continue to be fought.


Seriously---I get part of the NCAA argument, it likely will create an even larger "Have or Have Not" system than what currently exists. Just by the seemingly arbitrary nature of things like the "Transfer Portal"...


Now, all that being said---here's a potential downside (a big one), to allowing players to "Benefit" from their likeness. It opens up a can of worms that may not be recoverable.


Think about it like this: Say a 5-star QB recruit from Alabama is pressed in to duty during the Championship game because Tua got hurt. He leads a miracle comeback and is game MVP.


Then Tua decides he's coming back to play another season.


Suddenly the Crimson Tide have a problem. What is to stop the "Hero" recruit from hitting the transfer portal and going to the school who offers him the best---and biggest marketing deal?? We've already seen athletes from the biggest "Name" schools pass through the Portal with little question while other athletes with legitimate reasons get stopped in their tracks.


Yes, I know: We already have a form of "Pay for Play" in existence. And in a lot of ways---the issue in Basketball with sneaker companies allegedly paying players to go to certain schools is a form of this.


All "Fair Pay" does is allow this to be legal. It has the potential to create a free agency system far more drastic and in a lot of ways more dangerous than anything in professional sports. It could make the best players and teams mercenaries and the rest of the players and teams an afterthought.


Right now the NCAA is blowing off a lot of steam over California's decision. They've also added the subject is something they are aware needs to be addressed. My suspicion is there will be a compromise of some sorts---with the law not slated to take place until 2023, it gives the NCAA 3-years to come up with a plan.


I'm guessing that was the intent by the California Legislature--to bring the issue to the table. To get it out in the open.


At least for the moment---that's exactly what it's done....

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