Category Archives: Political Wankery

Tick, tock.

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.

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Today’s compensation round up

Three more stories:

  • I agree with one thing in this story.  NIL compensation is likely to have a bigger impact in basketball than it will in football, simply because of numbers.  Fewer players mean more concentration of resources; fewer players also mean fewer targets to enlist for promotional purposes.  Supply and demand, on the other hand.  But I disagree with the assumption that it would have little impact on the top prospects’ decision making.  Sure, a Zion Williamson would have little reason to choose Podunk U over Duke merely for money, but that sure wouldn’t eliminate money as a factor in choosing Duke over, say, Kentucky or some other elite program.
  • Here’s some speculation about what kind of money in NIL compensation might await college athletes.
  • Dan Mullen sounds pretty gleeful about the Florida legislation that, if passed, would result in a new recruiting pitch next year.  I wonder how long that glee will last after Alabama and Georgia quickly pass matching legislation.

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Save us, Obi Wan SCOTUS. You’re our only hope.

Former head of the NCAA openly pleads for the US Supreme Court to grant the NCAA an antitrust exemption in order to “limit financial influence on student athletes, whom he believes should prioritize their education.”

Maybe he’s got a point.  It’s not like the schools are going to prioritize their education.

He goes on to say,

“There are a number of schools that pay $30 million to $40 million a year in amortization of the facilities that they have built,” he explained. “We have become so obsessed with the money aspect of overbuilding costs and inflated salaries, it has become very difficult to control.”

California’s new law will only complicate the situation further: It basically turns student athletes “into professionals,” Dempsey said. “We would certainly need a new description of amateurism.”

I’d like to say you can’t make that shit up, but the NCAA pumps it out by the barrel.

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Another player compensation round up

It seems like the only thing this week that’s been more fast and furious than reactions to the new California law is the impeachment inquiry.  (NOTE:  that’s a colorful analogy, not an invitation to a special Playpen edition, so don’t even think about going there in the comments.)

Anyway, some bullet points for you today:

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Something is happening here and you don’t know what it is. Do you, Mr. Emmert?

Matt Gaetz is one of the more conservative members of Congress, a full-throated supporter of the POTUS.

Matt Gaetz also posted this.

When you’ve got polar opposites like Gaetz and Sherman on the same side of an issue like player compensation, you ignore current politics at your peril.  Which, come to think of it, is exactly what I expect the NCAA to do.

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They only have your best interests in mind, kids.

These two Tom Izzo quotes are a perfect encapsulation of why we can’t have nice things when it comes to the NCAA.

This shit’s been brewing for a decade and the NCAA has done nothing but delay the inevitable, because that’s how they roll.  Just think what a little proactive thinking five years ago might have saved everyone.

And it’s not like things are likely to change any time soon.  Here’s Gene Smith, giving a hint as to the not-so-new direction coming from the powers-that-be on player NLI rights:

“My concern with the California bill, which is all the way wide open, monetizing your name, image and likeness, is it moves slightly towards pay for play,” Smith told reporters on Tuesday. “It’s very difficult for us who are practitioners in this space to figure out, how do you regulate that? How do you ensure that the unscrupulous bad actor does not enter that space and ultimately create an un-level playing field?”

Ah, yes, Gene, please save them from that “unscrupulous bad actor”.  There’s nothing more NCAA than running something from the do it for the kids playbook.

And lucky for Gene — he knows somebody in Congress who shares his concern.

“I actually think that we need to do something quickly, within the next year,” Gonzalez told ESPN. “I don’t think you have three years to figure this out. I think decisions will start happening immediately.”

He said he wants to create legislation that gives athletes the chance to make money while also setting up some way to protect athletes from what Gonzalez described as “bad actors.”

“There are a lot of people who are trying to get a piece of the athlete who do not have their best interest in mind and are out for nefarious means,” said Gonzalez, who was an All-Big Ten receiver at Ohio State before playing in the NFL for five years. “You can imagine a world where, if there were no guardrails in place, that it could get out of hand pretty quickly. That’s the lane you’re trying to carve. How do you do this to provide necessary and deserved benefits while not inviting a bigger problem alongside it?”

Gonzalez said he has had informal conversations on the subject with Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith, the co-leader of a working group assembled by the NCAA to evaluate ways in which the association could change its rules on name, image and likeness rights.

That’s a relief.  Who better to protect college athletes from being exploited than the very people who have specialized in doing so for years?

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The sound of retreat

Three more states joined the California Pay for Play gold rush yesterday.

It’s been one day since California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the landmark Fair Pay to Play Act into law, state lawmakers from Nevada, Pennsylvania, Florida, Minnesota and now Kentucky have announced plays to write copycat bills in their respective states.

Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Kentucky joined the fray today. Kentucky Sports Radio‘s Matt Jones reports that “a Kentucky state legislator” is working on a bill similar to California’s, though Jones does not name the legislator.

Yeah, like Coach Cal was going to allow players in other states to sign endorsement deals without letting Kentucky play along.

The interesting thing is that reality seems to have finally hit the NCAA square in the chops.  Here’s the official response to Newsom’s signing the bill:

As a membership organization, the NCAA agrees changes are needed to continue to support student-athletes, but improvement needs to happen on a national level through the NCAA’s rules-making process. Unfortunately, this new law already is creating confusion for current and future student-athletes, coaches, administrators and campuses, and not just in California.

We will consider next steps in California while our members move forward with ongoing efforts to make adjustments to NCAA name, image and likeness rules that are both realistic in modern society and tied to higher education.

As more states consider their own specific legislation related to this topic, it is clear that a patchwork of different laws from different states will make unattainable the goal of providing a fair and level playing field for 1,100 campuses and nearly half a million student-athletes nationwide.

When you go from “we shall fight on the beaches” to “it would be nice if there was a uniform approach” in a day, you’ve pretty much given up the game.

Interestingly, it may be the Florida legislation that ratchets up the pressure the quickest, in that, unlike California’s law, it would be scheduled to go into effect next year.  It’s one thing to dismiss a law coming from West Coast commies, but this is starting to spiral out of the NCAA’s control.  Does Mark Emmert have the sense to make a move before the opportunity is lost?

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