Oct. 12, Cleveland Plain Dealer
Defying the NCAA, California has become the first state to legalize cash payments to college athletes for endorsement deals, starting in 2023. The move — which prohibits California universities from barring such deals — has kick-started a national conversation and a flurry of similar legislative bids. Besides Florida, add Illinois and Pennsylvania to the list, and in Ohio, State Rep. Stephanie Howse of Cleveland has said she and other lawmakers are discussing similar legislation.
Reaction from Ohio State University, where athletic director Gene Smith co-chairs an NCAA committee on legislation, was swift. Smith condemned the move by states to get out ahead of the NCAA on this and said OSU would not schedule games with colleges in states that implement such legislation.
Smith called instead for national legislation, seconded by U.S. Rep. Anthony Gonzalez of Rocky River, a former star OSU athlete, who said he personally supports such endorsement deals.
Smith told cleveland.com’s Nathan Baird that his committee will be sending its report to the NCAA board Oct. 29, but it’s not clear what it will recommend, and it’s likely to be a while before any recommendations might surface in a consensus policy recommendation.
Meanwhile, cleveland.com columnist Doug Lesmerises called a technical on Smith and the NCAA, writing that college athletic endorsements are inevitable, with the NCAA sure to go along in the end.
A couple years ago, former OSU athlete Chris Spielman sued over his likeness being used by OSU; he’s since settled with OSU, but the litigation was widened and appears to still be pending against other defendants.
Spielman’s move prompted cleveland.com columnist Ted Diadiun to write it was high time elite athletes stopped being exploited by universities and started getting paid for their labors. Our editorial board also editorialized that the time had come to talk about compensating college athletes.
So are cash endorsement deals inevitable? Are they a wise idea? And what could be the consequences for college sports?