ROSEMONT, Ill. – Gophers basketball coach Richard Pitino hadn’t planned on starting a trend Wednesday to oppose the NCAA’s resistance to allowing athletes to make money off their name, image and likeness.
Still, that’s exactly what Pitino did when he was the first coach at Big Ten media day to support the California bill passed this week to allow college athletes to profit off endorsements that use their names and likenesses, which will take effect in 2023.
“I think it’s progress,” Pitino said. “Over the last couple years, we’re headed in the right direction with taking care of our student-athletes. I don’t know exactly what it’s going to be, but I think it’s a good idea. I know a lot of people are pushing for it.”
Pitino’s comments came two days after California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law that he thought would inspire “dozens of other states to introduce similar legislation.” It happened with proposals being worked on in New York, Florida, Minnesota and other states.
“The biggest thing now is just getting everybody on the same page, getting all the states, getting the NCAA and getting everybody working together,” Pitino added. “The more we can get these guys — I’m all for it.”
Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany, who will officially be replaced by Kevin Warren in January, expressed disappointment Wednesday in what the California bill would do to the NCAA’s current amateur model.
“I don’t see any difference between name, image and likeness and pay for play,” Delany said. “I know people differ on it. I believe the law of unintended consequences and the law of slippery slope apply here. My view is I’ll be out in 85 days. I think this will be discussed, and I think it will be litigated, and I think it will be a congressional issue. We’re not perfect, but I think the opportunities we have for the greater many shouldn’t be sacrificed by the 1 percent that probably would have an opportunity to benefit here.”
“It’s a college game, it’s different from the NBA, different than the Olympics and different than the playgrounds,” Delany added. “I hope we can maintain the opportunities we have for men and women and avoid pay for play.”
Following Pitino’s lead, Nebraska coach Fred Hoiberg spoke in favor of the new law, saying he realizes he would have benefited back when he was an All-America player at Iowa State.
“As a former student-athlete, I would have loved to have been compensated for my likeness,” said Hoiberg, who went on to a 10-year NBA career, including two seasons with the Timberwolves. “Playing in my hometown, I think that would be a pretty good deal for me.”
Michigan State coach Tom Izzo stated arguments on both sides. He clearly had a gripe with politicians being involved. He didn’t think it was their job.
“I’m baffled by that a little bit,” Izzo said, adding that he wonders how it would affect team chemistry if one player is getting endorsement money and others aren’t.
Izzo joked that Hoiberg was such a big deal in Ames while playing at Iowa State that he “could’ve made a fortune.”
Most Big Ten coaches decided to steer clear of the name, image and likeness topic by saying they didn’t know enough about the new California law to comment, including first-year Michigan coach Juwan Howard, who had a 19-year NBA career.
But Pitino and Hoiberg made it safe for others to publicly back players getting paid by their likeness when asked about it at Wednesday’s media day.
“There’s a lot of different opinions out there,” Indiana coach Archie Miller said. “… I think the big thing is that in today’s day and age, if you’re not evolving, if you’re not forward thinking, you’re standing in cement.”