It bears repeating that one of the NCAA’s biggest shortcomings is its aversion to being proactive. It’s an attitude that’s cost it before and now, with regard to NIL compensation for college athletes, if there was a time to get in front of a problem — problem that no other than Mark Emmert has called an existential crisis, mind you — this would appear to be it.
The NCAA has a choice. It can get on board or risk getting run over. It can craft legislation that embraces change or invite change being thrust down its intransigent throats.
There is still time to get ahead of California’s Fair Pay To Play Act and the like-minded legislation gaining traction in other states; still time to create a progressive national policy on the compensation of college athletes; still time to act before Congress asserts jurisdiction.
That time, however, is not unlimited. Though California Bill 206 does not take effect until 2023, other states and multiple U.S. Congressmen are contemplating similar legislation on faster tracks.
The optics for schools are bad. The politics are building momentum in a direction the schools oppose. Even people in the business who don’t like the new California law admit there’s some need for change.
“I do think there are a lot of things we can do for student-athletes to give them more opportunities and more money, but don’t think (the California bill) is the right way to do it,” New Mexico State football coach Doug Martin said. “In my opinion, this is going to destroy college athletics. States like New Mexico, you are not going to have college athletics. Only the power conference schools will be able to survive this in my opinion because they are going to have the money to do it. Nobody else is going to be able to sustain what they are doing.”
If you think it’s apocalyptic, why on earth would you let state legislatures and Congress dictate the change instead of working hard to head that off with proposals you generate and convince others of their merits?
“They can be proactive or they can end up being reactive and it will be done for them,” Ridpath said. “I agree with the NCAA that it should be able to make its own rules, but the rules have to be constitutional. They have to be fair. And I think, honestly, from the federal perspective, they have to be forced. And this is eventually going to force them to do something.”
That’s the bottom line here. If you don’t want politicians dictating the terms of your business to you, don’t give them a reason to do so. You’d think a guy who is facing an existential threat would have all the motivation in the world to be proactive.