California Bill Allows NCAA Athletes to Profit, Earn Money

NCAA feigns support for paying student-athletes. Why won't they spread the money around?
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The NCAA Board of Governors voted unanimously to allow the possibility for college athletes to earn money for their athletic services. The board’s chair, Michael Drake, went so far as to describe this development as a “modernization” on Twitter. Modernization describes this perfectly.

Many claim that these athletes being able to earn money is something they deserve. Others assert that money can only cause harm to the players and to the nature of college sports.

Despite the rules against it, these athletes have accepted compensation for their talents in the past.

As they maintain their identity as a cohort, they may continue to accept compensation, but in different ways than before. Though these policies won’t go into action until 2023, it is critical to follow the paper trail behind this “modernization”.

The NCAA is posturing itself to appear in full support of this new culture change, however, the NCAA did not take this stance until about a month after Gavin Newsom signed the bill for California. In addition to Governor Newsom’s bill, other factors likely put pressure on the NCAA to take such action.

The Market’s Contracts 

Lavar Ball founded the Junior Basketball Association on December 20th, 2017. Many immediately asserted that the JBA would never work because the NCAA offered better opportunity. Shannon Sharpe of FOX’s Undisputed referred to the JBA as a “crappy league” on the December 21st episode of the talk show. In the same segment, he noted that the G League’s salary at the time was anywhere between $19,000 and $26,000.

In April 2018, the G League announced that salaries would increase so that most players would make about $35,000. This seems to be a beneficial and well received change for the players thanks to the league. After all, a $9,000 pay raise is significant when your salary is $26,000.

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About 11 months after the JBA was founded, the G League announced that it was offering contracts to “Elite Prospects”. These prospects are the age of high school graduates. The league went as far as to name this opportunity the “Professional Path”.

The nature of this opportunity is very similar to what the JBA was offering. It also offered bigger contracts and a longer organizational history. Michael Shapiro of Sports Illustrated reported that the G League was offering recruits up to $125,000 out of high school.

The JBA was certainly a minor league, but it had a national market including talent from several major cities.

These cities were Philadelphia, Houston, L.A., Chicago, Dallas, New York, Atlanta and Seattle. JBA offered their athletes $3,000 a month and 60% of their jersey sales.

The league was short lived, but branding themselves as the alternative to playing in college for free is the JBA’s most important appeal. It is also important to note that BBB is based in California. California’s Governor signed this bill, which was initially proposed by state Senator Nancy Skinner. The bill allows student athletes to profit from signing autographs, endorsements, sponsorships, and other things.

NCAA Saving Face 

The NCAA will not pay the athletes directly and have expressed that allowing players to be paid on top of receiving scholarships will harm the athletes. They also believe that the bill gives an unfair recruiting advantage to California schools. This is a curious stance considering this advantage could be nullified by giving all student-athletes the same opportunity.

Additionally, if any player lost their roster spot and then their scholarship due to injury, they might be able to pay to finish their education. Considering how the NCAA constantly champions student-athletes’ need for education, this bill seems like something the NCAA would have supported from the start.

The NCAA Board of Governors stated that, “a national model of collegiate sport requires mutually agreed upon rules”, which is ironic considering their very authoritarian regulations of payments, gifts, food, and much more for student-athletes. Surely these athletes did not agree to go hungry while trying to perform at the collegiate level. The organization is displeased with Governor Newsom, but the NCAA has had plenty of time to implement alternative solutions to California “taking unilateral action”.