Hey NCAA, accept new era of college athletics

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Travis Nelson

In 2023, the makeup of what we know today in NCAA Division I athletics is going to change forever. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is trying to stop it, but instead, they just need to accept it.

California became the first state to legalize that college players can be paid for the use of their image, name and likeness on Monday. The Fair Pay to Play Act makes it illegal for universities in California to suspend or punish the athletes for accepting money. This goes against everything that the NCAA stands for, as athletes taking money while competing is strictly prohibited. The bill will not take effect until 2023, but the NCAA along with major conferences, don’t want it to happen. The fact of the matter is this: California is only the first state, with many gearing up to join them. States such as South Carolina and Washington plan to propose the deal during the next legislative session, which will definitely throw off the NCAA’s mighty agenda. They want control, and that power hungry nature is what has caused them to look like a laughing stock in recent years. 

The bill is athlete-friendly, and it will create an environment in which the paying of these players is much cleaner. This will not be the first time players have gotten paid, as it happens all of the time illegally. Recruiting has become a crap shoot, where one school will have a kid locked to come there when all of a sudden they commit to a different school. That would be because of the money flow from boosters, and it has made college sports that much more tainted. The Fair Pay to Play Act will take out the collusion and embezzlement in college athletics, as the athletes will get the chance to get shoe deals and endorsements on a legal basis. Not every kid will be getting paid, not everyone is worth a sponsorship. 

With the current rules, basketball players must be 19 years old to enter the NBA Draft. That means that players would have to play one season of college basketball when they could potentially already be in the NBA depending on talent level. Why should that kid not be paid like an NBA player? They’re worth the same as some NBA rookies are, and now high school players are beginning to play professionally overseas for a season instead of going to college. This bill could save the NCAA after all, otherwise they’ll be losing a lot of the precious money they hang their hat on having. 

This could eventually get ugly if the NCAA decides to fully commit to being against this bill, but they could be outnumbered quick. Everybody recognizes how hard these athletes work to not only produce on the field or court, but of how they keep their grades up and serve their communities well. Amateurism is a word that likes to be thrown around, and that is that college sports are for amateurs and not professionals. Though the pros and college are on different levels of play, it doesn’t mean that college athletes shouldn’t be treated better.    

There is always two sides to an argument, and there definitely are people that oppose this bill. Why do you? Why is it a problem that these athletes might potentially get paid for their talents? Again, not everyone is a once-in-a generation talent like Zion Williamson. Williamson deserved to be paid for what he did for college hoops; he was put on the national spotlight every time he touched the floor at Duke. There were countless hours of coverage of him on ESPN, and his face was plastered everywhere. The NCAA will gladly say that he played for a team that was part of their organization, but they will never want to see a player like him be paid. 

Change is coming in 2023. Right now it is only in one state, but what is the NCAA going to do when the number reaches 10? 20? 40? The answer is currently unknown. However, the NCAA needs to know very quickly that they must adapt instead of fight. This is the new era of college athletics, and the sooner the NCAA accepts that, the better.