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Gundy: ‘Players Get a Chance to Make a Little Money, Pay ‘Em a Little Money’

On a complex California bill that has innumerable ramifications.

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New California law SB 206 — also called The Fair Pay to Play Act — was signed this week by California governor Gavin Newsom. It’s complicated and messy, but here’s a definition of what to expect in the future based on SB 206.

This law allows college athletes in California the ability to profit off of their name and likeness, something current NCAA bylaws do not allow them to do. Once the bill goes into effect in 2023, athletes at all 58 of California’s NCAA member institutions could hypothetically cut an ad for a local car dealership or be paid to host a party. [SB Nation]

Here’s what Newsom said when he signed SB 206 with LeBron James (of all people) sitting next to him.

“This is the beginning of a national movement, one that transcends geographic and partisan lines,” Gov. Newsom said, according to the News Tribune. “Collegiate student-athletes put everything on the line — their physical health, future career prospects and years of their lives — to compete.

“Colleges reap billions from these student-athletes’ sacrifices and success but, in the same breath, block them from earning a single dollar. That’s a bankrupt model, one that puts institutions ahead of the students they are supposed to serve. It needs to be disrupted.”

SB Nation (no relation to SB 206) did a terrific job breaking down what in the world all of this means in this explainer right here. I’m not going to try and recreate what’s written there, but if you’re at all interested in this then you should go read it. Here’s the most fascinating part to me.

Schools won’t want to get left behind. If the California law is upheld, for example, states like Oregon and Washington and Utah and Arizona and Colorado will have to jump on board themselves, because nobody wants to be the state “upholding the integrity of amateur athletics” if that also means “going winless in a West Coast conference, thus forever missing bowl games because you can’t recruit.”

And once enough/the right schools sign up for this system, the NCAA, which is in many ways just a shell corporation for the schools, will cave. [SB Nation]

So there’s a world in which states like Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Oklahoma all jump on board, the momentum gets going with this thing and all of a sudden Chuba Hubbard (or whoever is Chuba Hubbard in 2025) can get $1,500 for endorsing a SUV off Highway 51. Like I said … messy.

Anyway, I was intrigued by Mike Gundy’s comments on it earlier this week. Given his past political statements and my perception of his general view of college athletes, I thought he would be very much against this. But he’s kinda not.

“I don’t know enough really to comment on it other than the money’s not what people think it is. I think Clint Chelf got something (from the video game), like $12 or something, which is $12,” said Gundy.

I checked — $12 is in fact $12.

“So, I don’t know what the money is on it. But if somebody’s making a bunch of money on it, and they want to reward the athlete some, I don’t see a problem with that. The issue you have is what if one state does it and a different state doesn’t then what does the NCAA do? There’s your attorneys on the state and federal level making a killing. They’re lined up out there just saying, ‘Hey, I’d love to take that case.’”

Billable hours are always the winner.

“We all complain about the NCAA at times, but it has been uniform, right?” Gundy continued. “The speed limit’s the speed limit. That’s the one great thing about this country is for the most part we try to stay uniform. We all follow the same laws. Well the NCAA, people complain about it, but they have done that. The system’s in place. You gotta be careful about getting out of your box because is California gonna be different from Oklahoma?”

Gundy saying the entire state of California is getting out of its box is all the chef’s kisses!

“Does that affect recruiting? Sure it does,” he added. “Are they just gonna have a California State Championship? Not gonna play for the national championship? I don’t know. It’s all way over my head, but again, I go back to the attorneys are gonna be lined up for it. If the players get a chance to make a little money, pay them a little money. I don’t see a big deal in that.”

In theory I agree with this. But in reality there are myriad complexities that “just pay ’em what they’re worth” doesn’t address. Our boy Doug Gottlieb has been pilloried in recent days for some of these takes, but his points have some merit, even if the broader argument isn’t airtight.

Again, it’s a complicated, complicated issue for which there is no great solution (but that we’ve been discussing in The Chamber over the past few days). The only lock in this situation — as Gundy noted — is that lawyers are going to make all of the money, something Gundy thinks maybe he should be making too!

“Is there a guy on there in the last four or five years on the video game that’s got a mullet?” said Gundy jokingly (I think). “I say pay that guy. That’s my likeness. There can’t be another guy coaching with a mullet at Oklahoma State.”

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