After having a week or so to think about the "Fair Pay to Play" bill that passed in California paying college athletes for their likeness, I've come to a conclusion…
To boil it down, this bill would erase amateurism in college sports by paying athletes for using their likeness or image to promote products.
Having worked for Rivals for nearly 10 years before starting VYPE 13 years ago, makes me sort of an expert on kids going from high school to college in all sports – guys and girls. With that being said, this will be the downfall for not only college athletics as we know it, but in high school as well.
Families and kids -- yes kids -- could virtually have an agent by say 16-years-old to negotiate payment for their likeness. What's to stop them? Imagine being a high school coach having to deal with layers of handlers when kids are freshmen, sophomores or juniors. What about 8 th graders? The landscape completely changes as player-positioning and transferring would sky-rocket.
It's already started. It's becoming a high school portal out there.
Looking at the college level, big-time college boosters across the country could build super teams. It's been done before – see SMU and Ole Miss. Google the names SMU's Eric Dickerson, Auburn's Cam Newton, Ole Miss' Robert Nkemdiche and Arizona basketball's Deandre Ayton.
So, here's how it plays out.
Cleatus the Cadillac Dealer in Oklahoma could pool his money to buy a QB from Dallas and OL from Oklahoma and a batch of WRs from Greater Houston.
That's not to say he's being outbid by Boudreaux the Billionaire in Thibodeaux, Louisiana. Bidding wars for high school athletes with NO salary cap. Really bad idea.
That's football. Think about basketball? You only really need three studs to make a run in the NCAA Tourney. Imagine Harrington -- an old Tobacco trust-fund kid from the East Coast -- plucking a point guard from New York City, a sweet-shooting marksman from Indiana and a big-man from Miami.
Cleatus, Boudreaux or Harrington no longer donate to the university -- which builds the athletic academic centers, locker rooms, employs the chefs and athletic trainers or nutritionists -- but pays the agent, family or kid. Like, are they a W-2 employee of a family business in the oil field services industry? Do they now have to pay taxes, etc?
Who gets the shrapnel from all of this?
Non-revenue sports of course. What happens to Title IX, ensuring equal amount of female athletic scholarships? As much as we don't want to admit it – golf, tennis, track and field, volleyball, softball and even baseball and softball – are a drag on the profitability of a college sports program's budget.
A big drag. If booster or alumni money is not coming into a school, or the football and basketball programs don't support non-revenue sports – the numbers simply don't work. Something is going to get cut.
The university is the ultimate loser in this. Not to mention the season ticket holders or even parents paying for REGULAR students to attend a university. Prices are GOING UP with this bill.
LSU, UT, Bama, Clemson, Ohio State. For over virtually 100 years, schools have provided the PLATFORM for student-athletes. Not to mention the infrastructure, the television contracts, the digital marketing and graphic designers, the weight rooms, the stadiums, the fan base… the EDUCATION – which accounts for nothing with this proposal.
So, this is a give-and-take. It's negotiation, right? The NCAA should give a little here. Student-athletes are full-time employees of the university, while they aren't considered so. They train hard in the offseason. During the season, it's a 40-hour week. They don't get much time off. They travel. They can't get summer jobs, so they should receive a stipend more than they currently do.
So how about a solution? Give athletes a choice – take the academic scholarship or pay for school and eat what they kill on the open market. Raw capitalism, but you can't have it both ways.
Allow high school athletes to go to the NBA or the NFL. Heck, baseball players can do it. Let's see how that works out?
We haven't even mentioned how this plays in the locker room. How does an offensive lineman who doesn't sell jerseys protect his bought-and-paid-for QB? Or does the scholarship hooper throw an alley-oop to a $15 million lottery pick or take his OWN shot as he tries to get his money? It's going to be divisive to say the least.
So, in essence, who are we really talking about? A handful of football and basketball players who are the game-changers, the 5-stars, the can't-miss kids. That's two dozen athletes per school, max.
They still need a platform to get that professional money. Where will they do that if not for college? Go the LaMelo Ball route? Good luck.
What more can a university give? Schools already provide the education, the marketing, the schedule, the travel, the gear, the food, the training, the coaching. Who pays for that?
This is team sports. Do not kill the goose that lays the golden egg because once the genie is out of the bottle, you get her back in.
Enough analogies for you? This is a bad idea.