NCAA president tells athletic directors students trying to get paid is ‘existential threat’ to model: report

NCAA President Mark Emmert reportedly told athletic directors Tuesday that giving student-athletes the right to capitalize on their name, image and likeness poses an “existential threat” to college athletics.

Emmert met with a group of Division 1 athletic directors, CBS Sports reported, discussing the “single biggest issue” in college athletics – the debate over whether student-athletes should be able to make a profit on their name, image and likeness while playing NCAA athletics.

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“My personal view is folks in general think that every student-athlete is going to be making hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Emmert told CBS Sports. “One or two will be making some significant amount of money. Nobody else will.”

Southern California running back Markese Stepp, second from left, points after rushing for a touchdown against Utah during the second half of an NCAA college football game Friday, Sept. 20, 2019, in Los Angeles.
(AP)

Emmert also expressed the difficulty of working with players to help them receive compensation.

“You’ve got 50 different states with 50 different labor law rules,” Emmert told CBS Sports. “If you move into what are, in essence, labor negotiations, you have to do that state-by-state … It just falls apart in its complexity.”

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The NCAA may have a problem on their hands thanks to California.

The state Assembly earlier this month voted 72-0 to pass a bill that would allow college athletes in California to profit from their name, image and likeness. The state Senate passed the measure 39-0.

California is home to 58 NCAA-member schools, the NCAA said, including powerhouse programs at USC, Stanford and UCLA. California Gov. Gavin Newsom has 30 days to sign or veto the legislation. If he does nothing, the bill becomes law.

The NCAA warned Newsom that allowing the bill to pass would upend the balance of college sports. The NCAA has asked Newsom to reject the bill – which he had 30 days to pass.

Membership of the NCAA, the top governing body for college sports, is voluntary. Athletes can get valuable scholarships, but the NCAA has long banned paying athletes to preserve the academic missions of colleges and universities.

UCLA's Rachel Garcia pitches against Oklahoma during the first inning of Game 2 of the best-of-three championship series in the NCAA softball Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, June 4, 2019. 

UCLA’s Rachel Garcia pitches against Oklahoma during the first inning of Game 2 of the best-of-three championship series in the NCAA softball Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, June 4, 2019. 
(AP)

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“It would erase the critical distinction between college and professional athletics,” the NCAA Board Of Governors said in a letter to the Democratic governor. “These outcomes are untenable and would negatively impact more than 24,000 California student-athletes across three divisions.”

The debate over paying college athletes has raged in recent years as some schools rake in millions from their athletic programs — mostly from football and basketball. Many college basketball athletes have left school early to sign lucrative NBA contracts.

The league now requires players to be at least one year removed from high school before entering the draft.

The NCAA has a history of coming down hard on players for receiving compensation or gifts of any kind.

Donald De La Haye, a former University of Central Florida kicker, had his football scholarship taken away by the school in 2017 because of the revenue he was generating from his YouTube channel. The NCAA determined his videos were a violation of eligibility rules, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

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Former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel got into trouble with the NCAA for allegedly signing autographs for money. He was suspended for the first half of the first game of the 2013 season for violating an NCAA bylaw about athletes’ use of names and images, but it was later made clear Manziel didn’t receive money for the autographs.

Fox News’ Louis Casiano contributed to this report.