CHARLOTTE — At the very least, California’s recent passing of the Fair Pay to Play Act has led to both its supporters and detractors.
Count Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski as one of the supporters.
“We need to stay current with what’s happening,” Krzyzewski said during Tuesday’s ACC Operation Basketball media day. “I’m glad it was passed because it pushes the envelope a little. It pushes the issue.”
The bill, which makes it possible for collegiate athletes in California to profit off their name, image and likeness and will go into effect in 2023, has led to similar bills being introduced in New York, South Carolina and discussions in other locals.
“I bet by the time this season’s over, you’re going to see dozens of states passing this legislation,” Krzyzewski said. “It’s really a sign that we probably have not adapted over the last few decades in a logical progression like we have in amateur sports in the Olympic model … This needs to be looked at as a total package of what’s right for the student.”
In another camp, there are coaches and administrators who believe the issue complicated issue that requires careful consideration.
Virginia athletic director Carla Williams can be counted among that group. She became a member of the NCAA working group that is studying the issue in May.
The committee was created a few months prior to the Fair Pay to Play Act, but the bill is forcing the NCAA and other states to take an expedited look at the rights of players.
“I’d be lying if I [said I] had a great handle on it,” Virginia men’s basketball coach Tony Bennett said. “I think it needs to be investigated further. I’m all for the student-athletes having more opportunities to receive funding, whether it’s through the name and likeness, if it can be fairly equitable and doesn’t affect the game and other sports and all that in a bad way.”
Bennett wasn’t as strong as Krzyzewski in his comments about the bill, as Virginia’s coach discussed both sides of the equation.
“This isn’t the NBA,” Bennett said. “Yes, there’s components of the college game that have a professional feel and all that, but I just love the — and I use this word cautiously — the purity of the college game.”
Through all of Bennett’s comments, the one focus was the student-athlete experience. Whether players make money in college or not, Bennett wants the final decision to benefit the players and enhance their overall experience.
“There’s a lot at stake, and you don’t want to jeopardize it,” Bennett said. “But you have to look at the system, and if there’s areas that it’s broke, or things we can do better to help the students, absolutely I’m all for it.”
Commissioner John Swofford agreed that allowing college athletes to profit from endorsement deals is reasonable — even if nobody seems to have a simple solution to a highly complex problem.
But Swofford added the California law is “extreme” and that he would prefer to see it resolved on a national level rather than by individual states.
He also expressed some concern, saying “We have to be really careful about unintended consequences that can come with it. I don’t think we can look at it in a pure silo of a couple of sports. I think we have to look at the whole picture and the impact on Olympic sports, women sports.”
There seems to be more questions than answers about the future of paying athletes and how collegiate athletics will continue to operate under its current model. The dialogue surrounding the issue can often become quite heated, and it’s hard to find reasonable dialogue on both sides about the pros and cons of allowing amateur athletes to make money.
“I think we’re in a very interesting spot right now, where if you’re a coach and you don’t agree with it wholeheartedly, you kind of get killed,” Pittsburgh coach Jeff Capel said. “If you say that you don’t have a comment on it, you get killed. So you basically get killed unless you agree with it 100%. I don’t think that’s fair.”
Capel, who played for Krzyzewski at Duke from 1993-97, said his experiences as a player has him leaning toward supporting the uprising..
“I always thought it was very odd that I could go up to the bookstore — and I think [my jersey] was around $70 or $75 — and I would have to pay and buy it if I wanted to get it for my younger brother or my cousins,” Capel said. “If Duke gave it to me, I would be in violation and wouldn’t be able to play. I thought there was something odd about that.”
Capel does believe limitations should be in place, though. He’s fine with players making money on social media advertisements as well, but he thinks there should be regulations.
“There needs to be pinpoint leadership, where it needs to be someone in charge of it,” Capel said. “Where it’s not all these committees, it’s not all these things. There needs to be, ‘Well, this is the way it is.’”
The Associated Press contributed to this report