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Volume 26 No. 223
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NCAA Battle Over California NIL Bill Just Getting Started

Ohio State AD Gene Smith said he is "against the Fair Pay to Play Act" signed by California Gov. Gavin Newsom that will allow college athletes to make money off their name, image and likeness, citing concern that the law will eventually move "slightly towards pay-for-play," according to Edward Aschoff of ESPN.com. Smith said, "It's very difficult for us -- the practitioners in this space -- to figure out how do you regulate it." Smith is one of two administrators "leading an NCAA working group that is examining options for NIL rights." He said that he "couldn't comment on any specifics about what the working group has discussed, but he did say the group will submit its report to the NCAA board of governors on Oct. 29 in Indianapolis." Smith said that he "would not schedule Ohio State to play schools in states where these kinds of bills are passed." He also said there would be "no compromise" between the NCAA and states that decided to pass similar bills. He added that the membership will "come up with a recommendation for what it should do, but he added that he doesn't anticipate that happening" until late '20 (ESPN.com, 10/1).

AROUND THE COUNTRY: Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said he is "certainly willing to look at" legislation similar to California's. Minnesota state Rep. Nolan West said that his "goal is to introduce a similar proposal to the Minnesota House" during the '20 legislative session. He said, "This is a multibillion dollar business. The vast majority of the student athletes do not go on to play professional sports, do not make money off that, but ticket sales and their images do. ... I certainly don't see this moving to the forefront of discussions next session, but for me personally, I think it is worth discussing" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 10/2). In Chicago, Jerry Nowicki notes Illinois state Rep. Emanuel "Chris" Welch introduced a measure that "duplicates the California law." Welch said that while it "allows student-athletes to hire agents, it does not pave the way for them to seek salaries or payment, outside of scholarships, from their colleges or universities" (Chicago DAILY HERALD, 10/2).

LASTING IMPACT: A ton of questions remain about what the California law will mean for schools, players, shoe brands, sponsors and practically anyone who does business in college sports. Sources believe this is the game changer that could result in a new model for the NCAA -- one where an athlete can make more than the money tied to a scholarship. It's starting to feel like the walls are closing in on the NCAA. What happens next? The NCAA will sue the state of California to overturn the law. Later this month, the NCAA's working group on NIL will report to the NCAA's board with recommendations on next steps and any modifications to existing rules against NIL (Michael Smith, SBJ College). In Indianapolis, Gregg Doyel writes the NIL bill, years from now, will be "seen as the single biggest development in NCAA history." This "could be right, if done correctly." Some athletes "deserve a bigger piece of the pie than the room and board they get for turning college sports into a billion-dollar industry." However, this "isn't about national endorsements," it is "about local." This is "about the boosters of Big State U, finally having a legal way to funnel money to recruits." This "isn't about opening Pandora's box to cheating." This is "about prying the lid off of that box and throwing it away" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 10/2).

ABOUT TIME: In DC, Sally Jenkins writes under the header, "California Law Doesn't Take From The NCAA. It Keeps Athletes From Getting Robbed." California's law has "restored property to its rightful owners." College athletes "merely will regain what was theirs all along: the use of their own names and likenesses." The new law "doesn't require schools to pay athletes one dime, or to take resources from one set to give to another." It "doesn't even touch campuses." It "doesn't take anything from anyone." It "only gives things back" (WASHINGTON POST, 10/2). ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne said, "This has the potential to bring down the entire system and the entire system is set up where men’s basketball and football basically fund the non-revenue sports" (“The Jump,” ESPN, 10/1).

BAD FOR BUSINESS? In Orlando, Mike Bianchi writes laws like California's will "ruin amateurism as we know it and turn college sports into nothing more than a secondary professional sports league." NCAA President Mark Emmert needs to "stand up and be heard" on this issue. Bianchi: "Why isn't Emmert aggressively challenging those critics who continue to recite the massive lie that the NCAA is making billions on college athletes, who, in turn, get paid 'nothing?'" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 10/2). ESPN’s Jalen Rose said it is "one thing for the governor to sign the bill," but it is going to be "another thing for UCLA, USC and all of the schools in California to not accept the rules they have to abide by to be part of the NCAA." Rose is "not as optimistic as many people are that the NCAA is going to cave to the groundswell because money never sleeps and for so very long, they did not have to share it" (“Jalen & Jacoby,” ESPN2, 10/1).