What South Carolina, Clemson coaches think of California’s new law challenging NCAA

On Monday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law the Fair Pay to Play Act, a bill that will allow college student-athletes to profit off their name, image and likeness, starting in 2023.

The law directly challenges the NCAA, which mandates its athletes remain amateurs, but does not require universities to pay athletes. Instead, it prohibits California schools from preventing athletes from earning money by selling the rights to his or her name, image or likeness to outside bidders.

As a result, California student-athletes could sign endorsement deals with local or national companies and appear in commercials or advertisements for those companies. Other states, including South Carolina, are set to consider similar legislation.

South Carolina’s legislation, which will be introduced Democratic Sen. Marlon Kimpson, D-Charleston, and Rep. Justin Bamberg, D-Bamberg, would also allow universities to pay $5,000-a-year stipends to athletes in profitable sports like football and basketball.

“The legislation passed in California is a sign of the times,” Kimpson told The State in September, before the law was signed by the governor. “The NCAA is not an amateur sports league. This is a multibillion dollar sports empire where everyone involved makes money except the players on the field who earn it.”

However, similar proposals in South Carolina have failed in the past, and South Carolina athletics director Ray Tanner has said in the past that ideas such as paying student-athletes “gives me angst.” Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney has said he’ll leave the profession if college athletes are paid.

The NCAA issued a statement in the wake of the new law saying it was creating confusion among current and future student-athletes and citing its own working group that is examining the issue.

“As more states consider their own specific legislation related to this topic, it is clear that a patchwork of different laws from different states will make unattainable the goal of providing a fair and level playing field for 1,100 campuses and nearly half a million student-athletes nationwide,” the statement concluded.

Here’s what some of South Carolina’s most prominent college coaches had to say about the law and the future of collegiate athletics.

South Carolina football coach Will Muschamp

“Obviously I am aware of of what’s going on, and I certainly agree changes need to be made to continue to support student-athletes, but those decisions will be made by people not named Will Muschamp. So I’m going to let them make those decisions, and whatever rules they come up with, we’ll do.”

South Carolina men’s basketball coach Frank Martin

“I am completely against pay to play. There’s this thing called professional sports. You want to get paid to play, go play professional sports. So I’m completely against pay to play. What’s happening in legislation right now is not pay to play. ... I’m privy to a lot of meetings. Change was coming. It’s not as easy as people make it sound to be. Because once I give you something, you going to let me take it back from you? So it’s over. So I can’t give you something if it’s going to deprive him of an opportunity later on in life. We are a nation of laws, we’re not a nation of ‘do whatever.’ So we have to make sure that we put certain things in place so It continues to grow the opportunities and benefits for the young people, but it doesn’t completely ostracize half of what collegiate sports is all about.”

Martin has previously commented on such issues. The Athletic’s Dana O’Neil cited Martin’s suggestion earlier this week when she wrote, “(Martin’s) plan: Allow college athletes to profit off of their name, image and likeness entirely, but put the money into an account that the university, or an agreed-upon third party, manages until the athlete’s eligibility is over or he/she graduates.”

Clemson men’s basketball coach Brad Brownell

“Yeah, that’s a hard one. I think we’re all kind of trying to guess what happens next, but I think we all felt like at some point we were gonna get to this. It’s good that it’s a couple of years away. Certainly our people and administrators and everybody are on top of it like most people. I think it’s more of just wait and see now. I don’t know that any of us know what it looks like. You can read all of the things that people have said. It’s going to lead to this and that. But at the end of the day I think wait and see a little bit is our best approach.”

South Carolina women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley

“You know what, I was told by somebody that’s in the thick of things that if I mention it, I could get subpoenaed to be a part of the case, and I don’t want to be that. What I want is everybody to be happy. That’s as far as I’m gonna go. I want everybody to be happy. I want the NCAA to be happy, I want the players to be happy, I want the student-athletes to be happy, I want a happy ending.”

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