The headline to this story should be that Mark Few supports college athletes getting access to their name, image and likeness rights.
But it’s not.
Because in an interview with Jeff Goodman of Stadium, Few took a bizarre, meandering two-minute detour through the hellscape that is politics in 2019 before answering a simple, straightforward question about SB 206, the Fair Pay For Play act:
The point that Few eventually made was one that I’m sure many coaches and fans will agree with: There need to be changes made to the way that the NCAA views amateurism, but politicians looking to garner political clout should not be the people that force through that change before college athletics has a plan in place to deal with it.
I totally understand that point of view, even if it’s something that I disagree with.
But that’s not going to be the takeaway here.
No one will make it that far. Before actually getting to the point, Few says:
- “[The NIL debate is] an incredibly complex issue. It’s like health care in America.”
- “What I find totally disappointing and disgusting is that a Governor is wasting his time grandstanding around something that he really doesn’t understand where .00001% of his constituents are going to be impacted by this.”
- “He should probably stay in his lane, like I tell my players. Figure out homelessness. He’s got a state that borders Mexico. Get that mess figured out. The budget.”
- “We’re saying that the athletes have one pair of socks that’s dirty. They need to come see how Gonzaga’s athletes are treated and living and how much better it is now, and the fact that all their education is paid for. They don’t want for anything.”
Look, the people that read this space probably know where I lean politically by now. I’ll give you a hint – it’s on the opposite end of the spectrum from where Few leans. I’m not going to do what you think I’m going to do here, though. I’m not going to rip him for that.
But I will rip him for being dumb enough to share these sentiments publicly.
People in basketball circles know that Few is politically conservative, but until now, this wasn’t something that the general public was aware of. He’s a top ten coach in the sport, but outside of a couple of deep runs in March and the occasional feature where a writer will go fly fishing with him, Few mostly stays out of the spotlight. All that the public really knew was that he was damn good at his job and that he will never leave Spokane because there’s no other school in the country where the trout run as plentiful as they do there.
Not after he told the Governor of California, Gavin Newsom, to “stay in his lane, like I tell my players.” Not after he told Newsom to “figure out homelessness” or to “get that mess” at the Mexican border figured out.
For two minutes, Few sounds like he’s reading a White House talking points memo, and he comes off like a doofus while doing it. When he finally gets around to answering the question, what he says works! He told Goodman that he would have been all for Rui Hachimura – who is Zion in Japan – profiting off of his name and likeness while he was at Gonzaga. He supports this movement, but that he wants to change to come from within – from the “people that work in this space” – rather than from a grandstanding, clout-chasing politician.
All of that is fine.
And all of it came after Few unnecessarily turned himself into Coach MAGA.
In an era where one slip-up will get remembered on the internet for ever, Mark Few just made sure that everyone in college hoops will believe that he’s the Rudy Giuliani of the WCC.
I’m sure that will make recruiting easier.