NCAA California law a step forward

Published 7:51 am Saturday, October 12, 2019

The Free Press, Mankato

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Innovations in California often spread to the rest of the nation. So, we expect, will be the case with a new law there that has upset the collegiate athletics monopoly.

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The “Fair Pay to Play Act,” signed into law earlier this month, will permit college athletes to be paid for the use of their names and images. It takes effect in 2023.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz quickly said he’s open to such legislation, although it’s not a priority. Other states, notably New York, have signaled interest in the idea as well.

The more the merrier, for this is the best route to force the NCAA to mend its archiac and unfair rules on amateurism.

Big-time college sports is now about big-time money. The Division I college football playoffs carry a $6 billion contract with ESPN. CBS and Turner will soon be paying the NCAA more than $1 billion a year for the men’s basketball tournament.

And zero of all that goes to the talent. But Mark Emmert, the president of the NCAA, gets more than $2 million a year to wink at academic fraud at North Carolina. The highest paid public employee in the nation is a football coach (Nick Saban at the University of Alabama). In most states, the highest paid public employee is either a football or basketball coach.

It has been more than five years since a federal court ruled in the O’Bannon case that the NCAA’s rules and bylaws violate antitrust law and are an unreasonable restraint of trade. Emmert said the states should back off and let the NCAA work the issue out. But it is patently obvious the NCAA won’t change anything until forced to do so.