The NCAA is gearing up to fight back against states that are implementing laws that would allow student-athletes to be able to profit off of their name, image and likeness.
The most recent state to do so is California, who is currently in the process of pushing a bill through its legislature that would do exactly that. According to a report from USA Today, that bill still has to go through two more committees to be approved, but it was overwhelmingly approved by the state senate last month and would allow athletes to earn compensation on their NIL rights as early as 2023.
The report also states that Mark Emmert is pushing back against the bill, sending a letter to the chair of two state assembly committees insinuating that if this bill becomes law, California schools participating in the NCAA would potentially be barred from competing. That includes the 23 Division I schools in the state, with UCLA, USC, Stanford and Cal among them.
On May 14th of this year, the NCAA announced that they had created a working group to examine the NCAA’s currently NIL legislation, and in his letters, Emmert requested that the committees delay their voting on the bill until the NCAA rulemakers have a chance to evaluate potential changes.
From USA Today:
“We recognize all of the efforts that have been undertaken to develop this bill in the context of complex issues related to the current collegiate model that have been the subject of litigation and much national debate,” Emmert wrote in his letter to the committee chairs. “Nonetheless, when contrasted with current NCAA rules, as drafted the bill threatens to alter materially the principles of intercollegiate athletics and create local differences that would make it impossible to host fair national championships. As a result, it likely would have a negative impact on the exact student-athletes it intends to assist.”
A spokeswoman for Assembly member Kansen Chu (D-San Jose), who will chair Tuesday’s hearing, said Emmert’s letter prompted Chu to seek an amendment from the bill’s author, Sen. Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley). Late last week, wording was added that says “it is the intent of the Legislature to monitor” the NCAA working group and “revisit this issue to implement significant findings and recommendations of the NCAA working group in furtherance of the statutory changes proposed by this act.”
California is not the only state that is working for a change here. A North Carolina congressman introduced a similar bill, and a Connecticut congressman has called for the NCAA to eliminate amateurism.
Where this gets really interesting is if California opts to ignore the NCAA’s suggestion and pushes the bill through. Will the NCAA go through with banning California’s NCAA-affiliated schools, which I can only imagine will create another series of court proceedings? How quickly will other states follow California’s lead?
Most importantly, for those of us that believe the NCAA’s amateurism model is morally wrong, will this be what finally forces the NCAA’s hand?