SportsPulse: Former NBPA Executive Director Charles Grantham spoke with Trysta Krick about his feelings on compensation for collegiate athletes.
INDIANAPOLIS – Robbie Hummel, the former Purdue basketball player, is among athletes who could have made money from his name during college days if rules had been different.
Now that California has a law that would allow exactly that, the NCAA and 49 states have three years to resolve an issue that is complex even for legal scholars.The law is to take effect in 2023
If the money does not come from an athletic department, Hummel asked, who does it hurt? For instance, Purdue could have sold the No. 33 jersey of a former teammate.
“It’s E’Twaun Moore’s jersey. I think he should be able to make money off that,” said Hummel, 30. “I don’t think this makes it the Wild West, in my opinion.”
Lilly King, a world record-holder and two-time Olympic gold medalist from Indiana University, is as outspoken about the NCAA as she was about doping in swimming. She said IU, Big Ten and NCAA were able to feature her in advertisements and announcements, and she was never compensated. They could promote her, she said, but wasn’t allowed to promote herself.
“I missed out on so many opportunities because I decided to stay and finish my education. That’s not something I have should have to miss out on,” King said. “I won an Olympic gold medal at 19. So I still had to wait three more years to do anything to promote myself. As an athlete. As a Hoosier. These things I’m proud of being.
“I could write a book about all the issues I have with the NCAA.”
Yet revamping the NCAA’s amateurism model isn’t as easy as the change made by the Olympics, which allowed pros in all sports beginning in 1992.
The International Olympic Committee let Olympians make all the money they could accrue, irrespective of source. The IOC did not have to worry about rogue boosters, NCAA compliance, antitrust law, patchwork legislation and Title IX rules requiring gender equity.
Altering “college sports as we know it”
“It’s not a simple fix to say just give the athletes more money,” said Kevin Brown, an Indiana University law professor. “There are so many more legal ramifications to that. If you do, you’re going to change college sports as we know it.”
The bill signed into law Monday by California Gov. Gavin Newsom will make it easier for college athletes in California to profit from their own name, image and likeness, beginning in 2023. The law also allows athletes to hire agents.
Legislators in other states such as Colorado and Washington are expected to consider similar bills. Brown said he does not expect the Indiana General Assembly to pass such legislation.
Spokespersons at IU, Purdue, Ball State and Butler all declined comment to IndyStar or referred to the response by the NCAA, whose headquarters are in Indianapolis.
In a statement, the NCAA “agrees changes are needed” but said that the process should go through the NCAA and that the California law has caused confusion nationwide. Schools are adjusting to rules “that are both realistic in modern society and tied to higher education,” the NCAA said.
“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.”
Parents fret about impact on sports
Parents of local athletes reacted cautiously, even though their sons and daughters potentially could earn money in addition to college scholarships.
D’Andre Davis, associate head basketball coach at Lawrence Central High School, has two sons on the team: senior Dre, a Nebraska commit, and sophomore Tae, who is being widely recruited. Coach Davis said he does not favor the California law because of possible misdeeds by boosters.
“Honestly, I think the integrity of the game will be compromised,” he said. “I don’t know how they’re going to regulate it.”
Robin (Threat) Elliott is mother of Ramiah Elliott, a sophomore sprinter at North Central. Ramiah won four titles at the state track meet and, as a 15-year-old, nearly made the under-20 national team. His mother was once Wisconsin’s all-time scoring leader in basketball and played two seasons in the WNBA.
In Olympic sports, athletes could be paid by Nike or Adidas and retain college eligibility.
“It’s so early to truly grasp the fullness of what’s going to happen with regard to the ruling,” Robin Elliott said. “I’ve always felt there needs to be better balance of student-athletes in college. What that looks like to me is yet to be determined.”
The amateurism model is important to the NCAA, Brown said, because it differentiates the organization from pro sports. Allowing endorsements would put the NCAA closer to abandoning amateurism and thus loss of control over eligibility at more than 1,000 schools.
Even if not paid directly, athletes could become viewed as school employees and thus subject to federal and state taxes, Brown said. Also, football and basketball revenue could be taxed if not tied to a school’s educational mission.
“Me personally, I’m just not sure how this helps anybody,” Brown said. “At most, we’re probably talking about 300-400 athletes benefiting by their name, image and likeness. At the same time, it’s going to create tremendous upheaval.”
One unintended consequence might be cutting Olympic sports — such has track, swimming and wrestling — that bring in little or no revenue. Rich Perelman, a longtime California marketing consultant who publishes a daily newsletter, asserted that a change in the NCAA model could affect U.S. medal hopes at the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics.
In college, Hummel said, he could have used extra money but did not lack for anything. He said he can understand fans who have $15,000 in student loans might disapprove of money being paid to athletes who are already receiving a free education.
“It’s not an easy solution,” Hummel said. “But I know there’s a lot of money made on college basketball and football, and none of it’s going to the players.”
Contact IndyStar reporter David Woods at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 317-444-6195. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidWoods007.
How college sports are changing
In recent years, NCAA member schools have passed legislation that has:
— Increased the value of an athletic scholarship to include the federally regulated true cost of attending a school.
— Provided unlimited meals for college athletes.
— Put more defined restrictions on the amount of time coaches can require players to take part in team activities.
California’s Fair Pay to Play Act signed into law Monday by Gov. Gavin Newsom, would — starting in in 2023 — require NCAA schools to allow athletes to profit from their names, images and likenesses through things such as endorsement deals or autograph signings. Right now that’s against NCAA rules. Other states are looking into similar legislation.
The NCAA said it would “move forward with ongoing efforts to make adjustments to the NCAA name, image and likeness rules that are both realistic in modern society and tied to higher education.” An NCAA working group is expected to deliver a report on what can be done with name, image and likeness rights in October.