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SLATE: California SB-206 is signed into law, and that means something

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Longhorns top Cats on the pitch, tennis does better at SMU

Here we go.
Here we go.
Photo by Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post via Getty Images

There’s not much out there today that we’d normally put in the Slate, so it’s a perfect day to drift afield. That’s probably a good thing, as the big news this morning doesn’t directly affect Kansas State... yet.

But it’s going to eventually, and it’s going to impact the entire college sports structure.

This morning, California governor Gavin Newsom signed SB-206, the student athlete compensation and representation bill. There is a lot of bad information already circulating, including journalists claiming this means California schools are required to compensate athletes for use of their name, likeness, and image (NLI).

You can read the actual text of the law at the above link. Here’s a slightly more plain-english version of what the law actually says:

Four-year schools in California, as well as organizations operating within California overseeing college athletics (i.e. the NCAA, Pac-12, Mountain West, etc.), are now prohibited from enforcing any rule preventing an athlete from being compensated for their NLI or from securing professional representation, and they can’t yank a scholarship as a result of the athlete being compensated or represented.

No organization overseeing college athletics in California, with the law specifically including the NCAA in this instance, may prevent a school from participating as a result of their athletes being compensated or represented.

Those are the two main points, but it’s the little nuggets beside those two things which might be more interesting.

Schools themselves are absolutely prohibited from compensating players for their NLI directly. That means athletes can only contract with outside parties, on their own; the law merely prevents the schools or NCAA from taking action against them for doing so.

A scholarship is deemed to not be compensation for the athlete’s NLI, and said scholarship cannot be revoked as a result of the athlete taking advantage of this law. This explicit stipulation has a potential knock-on effect of ruling that a scholarship isn’t compensation at all for anything, which is potentially game-changing in terms of athletes actually being counted as employees in the future.

Athletes must disclose any contracts they sign to the school. They cannot be in conflict with contracts between the athlete and the school (read: their scholarship contract), but the contract between the athlete and the school cannot bar compensation for NLI or representation.

Representation can only be provided by agents and/or attorneys who are licensed by the state. There is already existing California law addressing said licensure. This is important, because it protects the athletes from sleazeballs.

You’ll note the law excludes community colleges; there’s an entire third section which addresses that, setting up a commission to figure out how to deal with JUCO athletes. The law will take effect on January 1, 2023.

So now that you know what’s actually in the law, you may be wondering what it all means to everyone else.

There are going to be lawsuits. The NCAA is going to fight this. They may even win, which will either cause California to back down or cause all the California schools to leave the NCAA. (That would be very bad for everyone else, by the way. It probably doesn’t require much imagination to figure out how.)

But if the law holds up, California will have a leg up on the rest of the nation. However, since the law doesn’t take effect for over three years, every other state now has the opportunity to jump on the bandwagon.

There is a concern that this will unleash the big money men and suddenly all the great players will end up in Tuscaloosa and Columbus and Austin and Los Angeles. But it’s important to remember two things.

One, those schools already get all the great players, so this isn’t changing anything there.

Two, more importantly, the history of the NCAA is littered with smaller schools rising up to dizzying heights only to get busted for paying players. In basketball, Western Kentucky and Villanova had Final Four appearances vacated in the early 70s. Massachusetts rose to power, then got cast down from the mountain. And we probably don’t even need to mention Southern Methodist football.

The gut feeling is to assume this will help the rich become richer, but it may very well create more competitive balance and there’s a very big reason why this may happen.

Imagine you want to spend money to exploit a player’s NLI. In order to direct him to a school, you’re going to have to have a guarantee they’re going to actually play, otherwise your investment is down the drain.

So you direct them to a school where they will absolutely be a star. A school where they can start as a freshman. You’re probably not sending a wide receiver to Illinois in this scenario, because you also want them to be playing for a team that might actually be competitive. But you’re not sending them to Alabama unless you’re really sure they’re going to play for Alabama.

Something to think about, and we’re just going to see how this all plays out in the end.

Football

At the Eagle, Kellis Robinett hands out his grades for Saturday’s game, and the offense gets a big fat F.

Ah, Berry Tramel. You were so nice to us for three weeks, and now... well, the Oklahoman columnist was forced to drop K-State down from #1 in his Big 12 Power Rankings to... #5. Hey, that’s not too bad, actually.

Soccer

Once again, K-State drove an opponent almost all the way to the edge of the world. Alas, once again, that opponent escaped the Wildcats paws, as Julia Grosso — a member of Canada’s World Cup squad this summer, mind you — scored in the 87th minute to lead Texas (7-4, 2-0) to a 1-0 win over K-State (2-7-2, 0-2) yesterday at Buser Family Park.

The Cats will be in Oklahoma this week, taking on Oklahoma Thursday night and Oklahoma State Sunday afternoon.

Tennis

K-State doubled its win total for the weekend on the final day of the SMU Invitational as Ioana Gheorghita and Rosanna Maffei both posted singles wins yesterday. Next up for the Cats is the ITA All-American Championships in Tulsa starting on Saturday.