California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill (SB206) last Friday – the news was disclosed during an episode of Uninterrupted’s ‘The Shop’ on Monday – that will permit collegiate athletes in the state to both profit off their name, image and likeness (NIL) and hire an agent to represent them come January 1, 2023. NCAA bylaws currently forbid student-athletes from taking benefits beyond the value of a scholarship and considers individuals who have profited from their participation in college sports (or hired an agent) to be ineligible. The governing body has yet to issue comment on “next steps in California,” but previously maintained that the “bill would remove that essential element of fairness and equal treatment that forms the bedrock of college sports.” SB206 does not allow colleges and universities to pay student-athletes directly.
Howie Long-Short: Newsom, a former collegiate athlete himself, believes the bill will “initiate dozens of other states to introduce similar legislation.” That seems like a safe bet. Back in August, New York introduced a statute akin to SB206 that would also award 15% of athletic department ticket sales revenue to student-athletes; and South Carolina recently announced it would consider its own version of a ‘Fair Pay’ bill.
The NCAA rightfully believes “that a patchwork of different laws from different states will make unattainable the goal of providing a fair and level playing field.” SB206 gives the California schools a significant recruiting advantage, which is why Wisconsin A.D. Barry Alvarez said his school would no longer be scheduling non-conference games against them. The NCAA could try to exclude California colleges and universities from sanctioned competitions (think: March Madness), but the eight Pac-12 schools not located in the Golden State are certain to oppose any outcome that would further the competitive disadvantage that the conference is at. Remember, for every game a P12 team plays in the NCAA tournament, the conference gets a $1.7 million pay-out over six years.
The more likely outcome is the NCAA decides to move the goal posts once again. The COO at one P5 school pointed to the organization’s history of “overcoming tough challenges” (think: Title IV, Ed O’Bannon lawsuit) and suggested “this [will be] no different than that.” ‘Fair Pay’ is a “massive shift in how the NCAA currently thinks and operates”, but our source strongly believes that “everybody in the profession will come together to figure out the best way to resolve name, image and likeness for collegiate sports and the student-athletes.”
The cat is out of the bag now that SB206 has been signed into law – the NCAA has until 2023 to figure out a solution. Our source suggested it won’t take nearly that long and said he/she expects coaches, administrators and the governing body to immediately begin working on re-balancing the playing field.
It’s highly unlikely that major national corporations will look to sign relatively unknown college kids over mainstream celebrities, so most (let’s exclude the footwear companies from this discussion) of the NIL deals that will be struck will be done on a local level. While it is possible – okay, likely – that boosters will line the pockets of football and basketball prospects, one must wonder what happens at schools where those dollars generate little ROI in the form of wins? One could argue that NIL makes it more likely talent will concentrate at the top, but that dynamic already exists.
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