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California Paves The Way For NCAA Athletes To Get Paid

Southern Cal quarterback Matt Fink in action against Washington in an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019, in Seattle. (Elaine Thompson/AP)
Southern Cal quarterback Matt Fink in action against Washington in an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019, in Seattle. (Elaine Thompson/AP)

With Sacha Pfeiffer

California becomes the first state to let college athletes make money. It’s a game-changer.


Master Tesfatsion, senior writer at Bleacher Report and host of “Untold Stories.” ( @MasterTes)

Matthew Futterman, Pulitzer Prize-winning deputy sports editor of The New York Times. Author of “ Players: The Story of Sports and Money, and the Visionaries Who Fought to Create a Revolution” and “ Running to the Edge: A Band of Misfits and the Guru Who Unlocked the Secrets of Speed.” ( @MattFutterman)

Cody McDavis, Former Division I college basketball player at the University of Nothern Colorado from 2012 to 2015. He was class president at the UCLA School of Law, and currently sits on its Board of Advisors. Former managing editor of the UCLA Law Review. ( @CodyMcDavis)

From The Reading List

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New York Times: “ N.C.A.A. Athletes Could Be Paid Under New California Law” — “It has been a bedrock principle behind college sports: Student-athletes should not be paid beyond the costs of attending a university. California threatened that standard on Monday after Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill to allow players to strike endorsement deals and hire agents.

“The new law, which is supposed to take effect in 2023, attacks the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s long-held philosophy that college athletes should earn a degree, not money, for playing sports. That view, also under assault in several other states and on Capitol Hill, has held up even as the college sports industry swelled into a behemoth that generated at least $14 billion last year, and as athletes faced mounting demands on their bodies and schedules.

“Under the California measure, thousands of student-athletes in America’s most populous state will be allowed to promote products and companies, trading on their sports renown for the first time. And although the law applies only to California, it sets up the possibility that leaders in college sports will eventually have to choose between changing the rules for athletes nationwide or barring some of America’s sports powerhouses from competition.

“In an interview with The New York Times, Newsom described the law as ‘a big move to expose the farce and to challenge a system that is outsized in its capacity to push back.’ ”

Sports Illustrated: “ As NCAA Gets Dragged Toward Just Change, Not Every Aftereffect May Be Positive” — “Two statements. Agree or disagree?

“1. College athletes should be allowed to profit off their name, image and likeness.

“This is the essence of California’s new Fair Play to Pay Act, and it’s a drum a lot of us have beaten for years. It seems completely just, doesn’t it? Nobody stops English majors from selling novels or music majors from putting their names on concert t-shirts. If Trevor Lawrence or Cassius Winston can make some money on the side, who is the NCAA to stop them?

“2. College athletes should be allowed to transfer and play right away.

“This one feels fair, too. The NCAA has moved in this direction already, with graduate transfers and exceptions for ‘extraordinary, extenuating, mitigating circumstances.’ Why not just abolish this antiquated rule? Why should Jalen Hurts or Justin Fields have to sit out a year? They just wanted to play football. Let them play football. Who is the NCAA to force them to wait?

“Reasonable people can agree with both statements. I find myself agreeing with them. But let’s anticipate what happens if college athletes can profit off their likeness and can transfer and play right away. Players will essentially be free agents after every season—free to sell their services, literally, to the highest bidder. Oh, officially the schools couldn’t pay them. But if the booster who owns a Norman car dealership offers Hurts $300,000 to be the face of his marketing campaign, as long as he (wink-wink) chooses a nearby school, who is going to stop him?”

The Atlantic: “ Young Black Athletes Are Starting to Understand Their Power” — “Joshua Christopher, a five-star basketball recruit from California, recently told me that he’s planning to go to Howard University this weekend for an official recruiting visit. This is news. Not just because Howard, a historically black school, hasn’t been to the NCAA tournament since 1992. But also because perhaps it signals a shift in the mentality of young black athletes.

“‘As I grow older, I just want to know where Josh Christopher comes from, knowing my background,’ said Christopher, who comes from a family of top-tier college players. ‘I’m more than just a basketball player. To be able to know my history other than the Christopher bloodline, that’s real important. I want to know the people that paved the way for kids like myself.’

“Christopher’s interest in Howard also can be credited to his deep admiration of Thurgood Marshall, the legendary civil-rights attorney who attended law school there and went on to become the first African-American Supreme Court justice. In fact, it was Marshall who once said, ‘None of us got where we are solely by pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps. We got here because somebody—a parent, a teacher, an Ivy League crony, or a few nuns—bent down and helped us pick up our boots.’ Marshall’s selflessness registers with Christopher. The sense of kinship he feels with the former justice is what led him to the uncommon decision to consider Howard.”

WISN: “ Badgers athletic director won’t schedule California teams after new law” — “UW-Madison Athletic Director Barry Alvarez said he wouldn’t schedule any California teams after that state’s governor signed a new law Monday that will allow student athletes to profit off their name, image and likeness.

“‘I won’t schedule anyone from California right now if they have different rules than we do,’ Alvarez said during an event hosted by WTMJ-AM. ‘I’m very concerned with it, and I think it will affect our game greatly.’

“The law, which is scheduled to take effect in 2023 and was signed Monday by Gov. Gavin Newsom, is the first of its kind in the country and is in direct conflict with NCAA rules by allowing athletes to earn income through endorsements and other deals.

“In a statement to ABC News, NCAA officials said the organization will consider its next move, adding the law will create immense confusion nationwide.

“‘As a membership organization, the NCAA agrees changes are needed to continue to support student-athletes, but improvement needs to happen on a national level through the NCAA’s rule-making process,’ the statement said.”

Stefano Kotsonis produced this hour for broadcast.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.