The NCAA drew a line in the sand and Gavin Newsom stomped all over it.
During a clip that was released on LeBron James’ Uninterrupted site, the California Governor signed Senate Bill 206, allowing student-athletes in the state to make money from the use of their likenesses when it becomes law in 2023.
“They’re a little panicked. They recognize they’re vulnerable. People are hitting this, not just in California, but across the country because the gig’s up,” said Newsom in the clip.
“Power 5 schools could have already done this if they wanted to. But they don’t want to because they’re making wads of cash hand over fist off of unpaid labor,” sports attorney Tammi Gaw told The Shadow League. “But they won’t because everybody is getting paid…except for the people doing the actual work.”
The NCAA’s worst nightmare is coming to fruition, and they’re not happy about it.
“As more states consider their own specific legislation related to this topic, it is clear that a patchwork of different laws from different states will make unattainable the goal of providing a fair and level playing field for 1,100 campuses and nearly half a million student-athletes nationwide,” wrote the NCAA in a statement that was released on Monday.
The “fair and level playing field” part is just more evidence of how willfully out of touch the NCAA is, especially given that head coaches, boosters, facilities, location, and television exposure are all variables that make things unfair and uneven in recruiting.
A while back, the NCAA even threatened to ban schools in California from competing for NCAA championships if the bill became law. And last week, Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith even insinuated that he wouldn’t schedule California schools because “they won’t be members of the NCAA.”
Ignorance and stubbornness know no bounds.
“I think they will threaten to do it, but what are they going to do, not have the Rose Bowl? The implications are insane,” Gaw explained.
“They would take down at least three conferences by preventing someone from participating in the postseason.”
With television networks alone, things are too intertwined – especially when you consider the money – for the NCAA to be able to ban a state with as many schools as California from competing for championships.
“It doesn’t even make sense, because they would lose ratings,” said former UC Berkeley hoops star Allen Crabbe to the Shadow League. “What if the best players were at West Coast schools? You wouldn’t ban UCLA from playing in a Final Four if they had a Zion Williamson.”
But while people are focused on revenue-generation sports like football and basketball, this is a win for student-athletes of every sport. The track stars down at LSU could start making some money if it became law in Louisiana. And the athletes that participate in Olympic sports like swimming and gymnastics could also put money in their pockets for once.
“They make a lot of money off of us and we don’t see a dime of it,” said Crabbe. “It’s something that should have been implemented a long time ago. And that’s why it’s dope for athletes to voice our opinions and make a change in certain things.”
When Ed O’Bannon filed a lawsuit in 2009 against the NCAA because his likeness was being used in EA Sports’ “NCAA March Madness” video games without his permission, and without any compensation, no one could have ever imagined that the former UCLA star would start something that the future governor of California would put into law.
“This is a great first step and I’m absolutely giddy about it,” said Gaw. “I think it’s wonderful, and I would love to see Ed O’Bannon getting more attention for this than LeBron James because he’s really the reason this has moved the way it has.”
A few years ago, college basketball was rocked by an FBI investigation that looked like it was going to forever change the sport, but it didn’t.
And earlier this year, attorney Michael Avenatti claimed to have the smoking gun that would bring down Zion, Duke, and Nike, exposing the corruption in college basketball. But, his claims have pretty much been ignored since he was arrested for trying to extort $20 million from the shoe company.
California, however, is a different monster, and a foe unlike any other that the NCAA has ever faced. This isn’t a celebrity lawyer or some wiretaps and spreadsheets from the feds. This is the state with the largest in population in the country.
And on Monday, California left the NCAA wounded and concussed.