There are a couple of good passages from this post at The Athletic ($$) about the showdown between the NCAA and the California legislature over the latter’s “Fair Pay to Play Act” worth sharing here, not from an advocacy standpoint, but as an informational reference in response to questions I’ve seen in the comments section regularly.
The first is regarding where student-athletes who aren’t the star quarterback or point guard could possibly look to find a way to monetize themselves. It’s easy to forget the kind of world we live in today, but there are more options for that than perhaps we realize.
… In response to a frequently heard criticism of the bill that it would only enrich a few big-name football and basketball stars, Skinner notes that local businesses, not just national name brands, would be interested in running commercials and giving other NIL-earning opportunities to multiple athletes on college teams. Skinner cited the example of a star female wrestler from a small California town who will never make money as a professional athlete, but under SB 206 would be entitled to receive NIL money from a proud local sponsor.
It’s not just athletes in the traditional “money” sports who would benefit. Skinner points to UCLA superstar gymnast Katelyn Ohashi, whose perfect floor exercise has been viewed by almost 44 million viewers on YouTube. Why, Skinner asks, shouldn’t she be allowed to monetize her athletic success in the way that other YouTube personalities, with far fewer views, have found ways to do?
As for the concern about abuse of the rules by boosters, University of San Diego School of Law adjunct law professor Len Simon, who had a role in crafting the bill, maintains that the NCAA would not be precluded from regulation of that problem.
Asked about the possibility that alumni groups or wealthy university supporters could form sham sponsorships, and thereby unleash a bidding war for athletes far beyond what legitimate business sponsors truly intent on gaining athlete endorsers would be willing to pay, Simon told The Athletic that the NCAA still would be within its rights to police such activity, by requiring that NIL agreements with athletes satisfy a legitimate commercial test. Further, the NCAA could insist that NIL payments not be used to steer an athlete to a particular school – a limitation which the NCAA also would have to enforce.
That might not be as hard as you think. For one thing, players would have different incentives under the new regime that would undercut such behavior.
Simon adds that one virtue of an unrestricted, but legitimate NIL market is that it could “dry up” the under-the-table payments from certain companies to athletes that have been at the heart of the recent college basketball scandal. He asks: “If nationally recruited high school basketball players knew that legitimate payments were around the corner, why would they risk their college eligibility by taking secret payments?”
That’s similar to arguing that additional revenue flowing to student-athletes might also serve to keep more of them in school longer, rather than leaving early trying to take a questionable jump to the NFL and NBA. I’m not sure how that’s a bad thing for college athletics.
Food for thought, anyway.