The Corner


Could NCAA Exploitation of Athletes Be Ending?

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James during a game against the Golden State Warriors at T-Mobile Arena Las Vegas, Nev., October 10, 2018. (Stephen R. Sylvanie/USA TODAY Sports)

I’m not usually a fan of Gavin Newsom but the California governor has just signed a monumental law set to take effect in 2023 that frees college athletes to accept endorsement money. The NCAA will fight this with everything it has. Could it eject California teams? Maybe. But they can’t eject every state from the NCAA. If other states start to follow suit, their actions strongly backed by college and pro athletes who are some of the most beloved Americans, what then? Expect much more of this:

Washington State and Colorado are considering similar bills.

The NCAA and its member schools are a racket. They profit mightily from the acts of unpaid student athletes who in many cases aren’t really students but simply an endless source of free labor. Little wonder that the University of California system, California State University schools, Stanford, and USC all opposed the Newsom bill, even though the new law won’t cost them anything as all the money coming to athletes would be from third parties. Nevertheless, the law would end the charade that top-flight NCAA sports are not pro sports, and that makes everyone who profits from them queasy.

I’ve been wondering how much longer the multi-billion-dollar “amateur athletics” industry could possibly get away with what it does, especially given that a disproportionate number of the athletes in question are black. Maybe California’s act is the beginning of the end of the NCAA’s shameful exploitation scheme.


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