(Picture from google images)
I’ve said for years, if boosters are handing out handshakes with a wad of Ben Franklins- I don’t care. Doesn’t bother me one bit. But now, thanks to the state of California, it’s about to be March Madness for the next three years.
Earlier this week, the Governor of California, Gavin Newsom signed the Fair Pay To Play Act. This will allow athletes in the state of California to earn a paycheck from endorsement deals, pimping out their social media, signing autographs, hosting camps, to selling their own merchandise all without breaking any NCAA rules. This will go into effect January 2023 forcing other states and the NCAA to figure out how to compete.
The one thing I love about this is that the additional paycheck will not be coming from the school they are playing for. As long as the non-athlete students are not seeing an increase in their already insane tuition, then paying student athletes does not bother me one bit. Current NCAA rules allow schools to provide scholarships with tuition, books, and room & board plus a stipend that could be from $2K-5K+ (bigger schools, double the stipend) and of course there is all of the free meals and athletic apparel. (Joel Klatt said in an interview on Clay Travis’s Wins & Losses podcast that the team ate like kings when he played QB for the University of Colorado. But when he played in the minor leagues for the San Diego Padres, they ate PB&J.)
Let’s not forget that the only players who will likely benefit from the Fair Pay to Play Act are the athletes who will go on to play professionally. Zion Williams was all, ALL, college basketball talked about last year. Duke’s brand made Zion millions from endorsements once he was a one and done in college basketball. If Zion would have gone overseas to play pro right out of high school, he wouldn’t have the millions in endorsement money. (Current NBA rules require players to be 19 years old during the calendar year of the draft preventing players from high school to enter the NBA.) Players can go to college creating the “one and done” or go play professional overseas. Duke gave Zion a national audience for every game he played in. Zion, more than any other player, benefited from his University more than any other player. Just as the players bring in the money, the school prepares the athlete to make a lot of money.
This new law scares me and I still have so many questions. Does the school’s shoe deal still override if the athlete signs an endorsement deal with a different shoe company? Do schools offer less full scholarships because now students have the opportunity for income to pay for part of their education allowing more money for walk-ons? Now that the money flood gates are going to be open and flowing, how do you stop all the shitty money? As a Tennessee fan, can I pay the opposing the team’s players to not play/fake an injury? How do you stop gambling conspiracy? Alumni conspiracy? Heck, If I was a millionaire, I would make up all kinds of “endorsements” to get a kid to play at my University. Basically, boosters can control recruiting.
This is why California is a broke state. They over reacted and acted way too fast without fully thinking about what happens next. Again, I am not against playing players, but now that it is “legal”, no one is talking about what this really means after they get paid. Players will have to hire agents and marketing teams to find and negotiate deals for them. My guess is that most deals will come with very specific social media requirements meaning hiring a social media team is another additional cost. Who is the legal team looking over these contracts? Add an attorney team to your cost. Has anyone mentioned that every dollar these kids will earn, they will have to pay Uncle Sam about half of it because they will be a 1099 employee and legally, they will have to pay state, federal AND self-employment taxes? Add an accounting team to your cost. All of this adds up quickly and while they will most likely still see some profit, the cost of failing to file/pay taxes correctly could cost them so much more.
In my opinion, the NCAA has their hands tied and this is about to be a total circus. We all know the NCAA is slow and lives in the past. If they would have adjusted to rules that make sense in this century, then the state of California would not be calling the shots and messing up college sports like they have their own state. Now, we will really see a divide in the rich schools and the poor schools.