College sports is a multi-billion-dollar industry. College coaches at top universities earn million-dollar salaries while the players get almost nothing. It doesn’t seem right, yet the NCAA, the entity that governs college athletics, has done nothing to address the issue. According to the NCAA, college athletes should receive an education and little more for their services.
Consider this; the NCAA and their member institutions can earn money by selling the image of a college athlete. They can sell jerseys with an athlete’s name on the back of it, yet the athlete gets none of that revenue. Now when you also consider that less than one percent of college athletes go on to play professionally, and many come from disadvantaged backgrounds, it seems downright exploitative. Last week, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill that would allow college athletes to hire agents and earn endorsement money for use of their images. Newsom smartly signed the bill on Lebron James’ hip talk show, The Shop, which airs on HBO.
On the surface the new law seems like good news for athletes, but it also creates some major incongruency in college sports. The NCAA could ban California colleges from competing in any NCAA sanctioned activities such as bowl games, the College World Series, and March Madness. However, if other states follow suit, it could force the NCAA’s hand to change their rules across the board. I’m betting on California with this one. If the NCAA plays hardball, many top athletes may choose California colleges where they can earn substantial money. California could create a second governing body to regulate sports for their member institutions and other states may join in at that point. It’s a complicated situation, but California with the support of Lebron James and some of the biggest names in sports just pushed the nuclear button, and personally I think it was the right thing to do. NCAA, it’s your move!