CollegesJune 24, 2019

Report: NCAA threatens California schools with championship ban if bill passes

Photo credit: Walt Beazley, Razorbacks Athletics Communications
Photo credit: Walt Beazley, Razorbacks Athletics Communications

Stanford won its ninth NCAA Championship last month when it knocked off Texas at Blessings Golf Club in Fayetteville, Ark., in the championship match. If NCAA president Mark Emmert is to be believed, it's a title the Cardinal might not be competing for much longer.

Earlier this year, two California state senators introduced a bill known as the "Fair Pay to Play" Act, which would allow college athletes to profit from their own names, images and likenesses. The State Senate approved the bill; on Tuesday, it is scheduled to be the subject of a hearing and a vote by the State Assembly’s Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism and Internet Media Committee.

But Emmert, the controversial head of the NCAA, wrote that his organization would considering banning California schools from its championships should the bill pass in its current form, according to a USA Today report. There are 23 Division I schools in the Golden State, four of which belong to the Pac-12, one of the "power five" NCAA conferences.

“We recognize all of the efforts that have been undertaken to develop this bill in the context of complex issues related to the current collegiate model that have been the subject of litigation and much national debate,” Emmert wrote to lawmakers. “Nonetheless, when contrasted with current NCAA rules, as drafted the bill threatens to alter materially the principles of intercollegiate athletics and create local differences that would make it impossible to host fair national championships. As a result, it likely would have a negative impact on the exact student athletes it intends to assist.”

A spokeswoman for Assembly member Kansen Chu (D-San Jose), who will chair Tuesday’s hearing, told USA Today that Emmert’s letter prompted Chu to seek an amendment from the bill’s author, Sen. Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley). Wording was added last week that says “it is the intent of the Legislature to monitor” the NCAA and “revisit this issue to implement significant findings and recommendations of the NCAA working group in furtherance of the statutory changes proposed by this act.”

Should the bill advance, it would go to the Higher Education Committee, which would face a July 11 deadline for the bill to remain alive in 2019.

Emmert may be flexing the the NCAA's clout at California, but it's clear this is the first of many battles. Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.) introduced a bill in Congress this March that has the same ambition of the California bill.

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