Pryor Inquires: Fair Play to Pay

By Richard Pryor III
Executive Staff

This week, California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) signed a new bill into law – the Fair Play to Pay Act. Introduced by State Senator Nancy Skinner (D-CA), the bill “prevents the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) from disqualifying collegiate players if they have third-party contracts with vendors that pay them for marketing campaigns, sponsorships and other uses of their name and image,” as summarized by Inside Higher Education. However, it is important to note that the bill still does not allow for players to be paid a salary.

I’m impressed that it’s made it to actually becoming law, considering the NCAA lobbied hard against it. But it’s an important step on the road to equality for Division I student-athletes.

Next College Student Athlete (NCSA), a recruiting network, offers an idea of what a D-I football player’s schedule might look like – a 5 a.m. wake-up call, practice for two and a half hours in the morning, practice for five hours in the evening, and going to sleep around midnight, at the latest. This leaves no room for any sort of on-campus job, which means that none of the players can earn any money. For the 85 out of 118 players with a scholarship, only their basic needs are provided for, in part or in full. And for poorer players, with or without a scholarship, student loans are sometimes the only option to fully cover the expenses of college. And the NCAA’s rules about amateurism mean that student-athletes can’t accept any gifts, which can include charity.

It’s important to note that even if a similar law goes into effect across the nation, as US Representative Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH), wants, this can’t be the end of the road. D-I football brings in billions of dollars every year – it’s only fair that the athletes, the main figures in the sport, share in the wealth as well.

I conclude this with two quotes that tie back to the state of Connecticut. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT), in his report Madness, Inc.: How everyone is getting rich off of college sports – except the players, states that “The current system does more to advance the financial interests of broadcasters, apparel companies, and athletic departments than it does for the student-athletes who provide the product from which everyone else profits.” And the University of Connecticut football head coach Randy Edsall – “The NCAA’s not going to do anything. They’ll screw it up if they have to, anyway, just like everything else.”