A new, controversial piece of legislation out of California sent the college basketball world into a frenzy over the past week.
California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law SB206, which would allow college athletes to gain compensations for their likeness. In essence, it makes it illegal for California colleges to disallow their student-athletes from profiting off themselves and allows agents to be hired to help promote them – both of which has been strictly prohibited by the NCAA.
There has been similar legislation introduced in other states, but the Golden State was the first to enact a game-altering change.
It doesn’t go into effect until January 1, 2023, but the result has sparked reactions from all over the college landscape.
Most of the reactions have been centered around money. Earlier this week, Gonzaga athletic director Mike Roth agreed that student-athletes deserve more than what is currently available to them.
Gonzaga men’s basketball head coach Mark Few was asked about it at the West Coast Conference tip-off event in Las Vegas and didn’t pull any punches, calling the law a publicity stunt by grandstanding politicians.
On Saturday, Few expanded on those thoughts and said the NCAA has been working on a solution for a while.
“We were already on it,” he said. “That doesn’t seem to be written about much. We already had a committee working on it, and some really good people and some smart people, and I think they are going to announce some things in a little bit. It is the kind of the world we live in; everyone just lashes out early and everybody reacts.”
In the few days since the new law was signed, the sports and political landscapes collided as everyone wanted to offer their opinion – from inside and outside the NCAA.
“I think everybody is kind of moving really fast on it,” Few said. “But I think there will be some really smart people, practitioners, day to day in our sport who can make some solid decisions and not get influenced by people outside of our profession chirping in.”
Few wanted to make it clear, as did Roth, that he is for some sort of compensation plan, but there have to be logical safeguards in place.
“I am hoping some good things come about from it. I am certainly all for it as long as we can have some sort of plan, some ways to easily regulate it,” Few said. “You have to take your time and look at the effect. You don’t just enact things and go from there; that usually leads to a disaster.”
Checking with student-athletes within the GU men’s locker room, the overall thought was yes, compensation should be made available to them, but no one knew exactly what that should entail.
Junior forward Corey Kispert was happy to see the news, hoping that it jump-starts the movement so changes can be enacted sooner rather than later.
“It is pretty exciting for me, to see states take steps toward treatment of athletes, and I think that is a good thing,” he said. “I think it is progressive, and I think they are making steps in the right direction. I think a lot of people are jumping the gun a little bit and are talking when they don’t really know what’s going, on and that’s why I am keeping my mouth shut about it.”
Assistant coach Brian Michaelson has a unique perspective. He was a student-athlete within the past 15 years, and now is a coach of student-athletes. Laws haven’t changed much since he was a player. He, too, thinks players should get a piece of the pie, but there needs to be a nuanced approach.
“It is going to be a long process, and I definitely think that student-athletes deserve all of the benefits they can get, but there are just too many things logistically on where that is going to go, and how you do it, that we just need to be patient and take a big step back, and kind of wait for it play out a little bit,” he said.
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