Ohio State AD Gene Smith Says He Opposes California's Fair Pay to Play Act

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistOctober 1, 2019

Ohio State athletics director Gene Smith answers questions during a news conference announcing the retirement of NCAA college football head coach Urban Meyer and the hiring of Meyer's replacement, Ryan Day, Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)
Jay LaPrete/Associated Press

Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said Tuesday he's opposed to the Fair Pay to Play Act legislation that was passed in California and will allow college athletes to collect endorsement money.

ESPN's Edward Aschoff provided comments from Smith, a key member of an NCAA group discussing how to handle name, image and likeness (NIL) rights for student-athletes. Among them were:

"My concern with the California bill—which is all the way wide open with monetizing your name and your likeness—is it moves slightly towards pay-for-play, and it's very difficult for us—the practitioners in this space—to figure out how do you regulate it. How do you ensure that the unscrupulous bad actors do not enter that space and ultimately create an unlevel playing field?"

California's effort to jump-start the conversation surrounding NIL rights has received praise from a wide range of people, including Golden State Warriors superstar Draymond Green:

Smith said he's concerned that certain states having different rules than other states is going to create an uneven playing field until nationwide or NCAA guidelines are set, per Aschoff:

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"The NCAA is an organization that has taken a long time to try and modernize itself. Over the last five to eight years, improvements have been made in that space to become more modern. What we can't have is situations where we have schools and or states with different rules for an organization that's going to compete together. It can't happen; it's not reality. And if that happens, what we need is federal help to try and make sure we create rules and regulations for all of our memberships that are consistent. And if that doesn't happen, then we're looking at a whole new model."

Meanwhile, Darren Rovell of the Action Network noted the dangers of creating an unregulated market:

The Fair Pay to Play Act increases the pressure to find a solution to a problem that has been brought to the forefront after years of illegal, behind-the-scenes deals.

In September 2017, when the FBI arrested 10 people for the sport's pay-to-play culture, acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim called it the "dark underbelly of college basketball."

The complexity of the situation led NCAA president Mark Emmert to say the NIL rights' issue creates an "existential threat" to the model on which college sports is built.

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