Editorial other views

The following editorial published Oct. 1 in the San Francisco Chronicle:

The NCAA should check the scoreboard. Despite all its bluster about kicking California’s universities out of national competition, it lost big last week when the governor signed state Sen. Nancy Skinner’s bill to allow compensation of college athletes.

And while one might not know it from Gov. Gavin Newsom’s self-aggrandizing bill signing during a taping of LeBron James’ HBO show Friday (Sept. 27) – which became public when it was posted Monday on Twitter – the NCAA was crushed in the California Legislature even before the Berkeley Democrat’s legislation landed on the desk of the man the Lakers star called “Gov. Gav.” The bill, which permits college athletes to be paid for the use of their names, images or likenesses in direct contradiction of NCAA rules, passed both chambers with overwhelming bipartisan support and without a single vote against it.

The association can’t easily ignore the sheer size and economic impact of California and its universities.

Moreover, legislators in New York, Florida, Pennsylvania and other states have proposed similar measures.

That means it’s time for the NCAA and the universities that joined it in opposing Skinner’s bill – including Stanford, USC and the UC and CSU systems – to stop playing defense for an indefensible position.

College sports is an industry – one that made more than $14 billion last year, according to the U.S. Department of Education, a figure that has more than tripled over the past 15 years.

And yet the big-time schools spend more on coaches alone than they do on their student-athletes, of which there are 10 times as many. That’s even if one credits the colleges’ own suspect valuations of their tuition and other costs, which is all they grant the young people who provide most of the labor and take most of the risks that generate those billions. It’s no wonder the most powerful advocacy against this system has come from the athletes themselves.

California’s new law doesn’t take effect until 2023. That gives the NCAA plenty of time to develop national rules that share the revenue equitably with its workforce.

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