Players Finally Get a Piece of the Action; Playoff Expansion Update; Shaw Explodes; NFL Embarrasses

On July 1 college athletes in several states will finally begin to share in the billions of dollars they generate for their schools, conferences, coaches, and administrators.


That's the day they will start being compensated for the use of their name, image and likeness (NIL). Since California passed NIL legislation last year, 12 other states have followed suit and another 27 are in the process of doing so.


NIL laws in several states, including Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Texas, Georgia and Oregon, go into effect July 1. Other states are looking to move up their start dates, including California, which had originally targeted July 2023 but is now hoping to advance to 2022.



These bills allow athletes to be compensated for things like endorsements, speaking engagements, memorabilia sales, camps, clinics, autograph signings, social media followers and video shout outs, birthday greetings, etc.


But they’re not all the same in terms of requirements and restrictions.


NIL income must come from a third party—usually a local sponsor—rather than the school. Most states require athletes to disclose their NIL activity and require agents to be licensed by the state. They typically prohibit athletes from entering into contracts that conflict with team sponsors and they typically prohibit schools from pulling scholarships when athletes make NIL income.


Some states forbid contracts with alcohol companies; others compel athletes to share a portion of their income with fellow athletes.


Wouldn’t it make sense, you ask, for the NCAA to impose national standards for NIL compensation?


Of course it would. But unfortunately, the do-nothing NCAA has been unable to get its act together. For years, the NCAA fought the concept of NIL compensation. When the first legislation was passed in California, the NCAA threatened to bar California schools from national championship competition, a ludicrous threat no one took seriously. California, after all, is home to the schools that rank No. 1 (Stanford), 2 (UCLA), 3 (USC) and 9 (Cal) in national team championships.


As other states quickly passed similar laws, the NCAA had to back down. But its proposed national legislation was too onerous in terms of necessary approvals, dollar limitations, and other restrictions to garner much support.


So, for now, we find ourselves with a mishmash of differing timelines, opportunities and prohibitions. It’s going to be interesting to watch this play out, but one thing we know. The amateurism sham has been buried, and athletes will finally get a piece of the action.


CFP Expansion Gains Momentum: Big 12 Commissioner and former Stanford Athletic Director Bob Bowlsby is part of the four-member working group studying various options for expanding the College Football Playoff. The other committee members are Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson, SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey and Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick. A very astute group, I might add.


CFP executive director Bill Hancock announced last month that 63 options had been discussed for expanding the current four-team playoff, including scenarios with 6, 8, 10, 12 and 16 teams.


Last week Bowlsby sounded like a consensus has been reached. “We are at the point now where we’re prepared to make a recommendation on format,” he said. “There are 11 parties to the contract (the Power Five Conferences, Group of Five Conferences and Notre Dame) and then there are a whole bunch of others that are TV partners and bowl partners, and others that have a dog in the fight. We really need to get to some position of practical unanimity and that’s not easy to accomplish. So to say that change is imminent would not be accurate, but I think we have a suggestion and a recommendation and we’ll see what comes of it.”


Shaw Explodes: Stanford coach David Shaw is usually one of the more reserved coaches in college football. He’s not afraid to take a stand, but his comments usually are thoughtful, diplomatic and non-controversial.


But last week Shaw let loose on one of the TV networks that control college football kickoff times. His anger was directed at Fox Sports, which scheduled Stanford’s Sept. 4 season opener against Kansas State in Arlington, Texas at 11 a.m. central, 9 a.m. Pacific.


“I am pissed at Fox for our kickoff time against Kansas State,” Fox told the Athletic. “For Stanford in particular…to be going and playing in a different time zone, and to give us an early kickoff, to me, is incredibly disrespectful. And it shows a lack of understanding of what we have to do, and the way that time difference truly affects us. It shows a lack of care for our student-athletes.


“That to me, is something that that is egregious, and I don’t care who I piss off, but they’re wrong. A lot of people in our conference are upset too.”


Shaw was just getting warmed up.


“They (Fox) can say whatever they want to say. I don’t want to hear shit about, ‘Oh, it’s great ratings.’ I don’t care about the ratings,” Shaw said. “This is either complete disregard, or lack of understanding how difficult it is to be a West Coast team that travels east and gets forced to play an early kickoff game.


“I’m not happy with Fox, and I don’t care that they’re not going to be happy with my comments…but we’re going to be playing against guys that get to sleep in their own beds, sleep in their own time zone and wake up at 8:30 in the morning, while our guys are getting up at 6:30 in the morning and losing those two hours of sleep.”


Unfortunately, the networks could care less about student-athlete welfare, academics, early wakeup calls, or whether the West Coast team is at a disadvantage.


But they do care—a lot—about ratings. Their attitude is, ‘we pay big bucks for the rights to televise the games, so we’ll do whatever we think will create the best matchups and draw the biggest audiences.’


As for Shaw and the rest of his overpaid counterparts, this is what happens when you sleep with the devil. The conferences have sold their souls to television so they can reap billions in TV rights fees. Those rights fees make it possible for schools to build fancy facilities, locker rooms, and scoreboards. And spend millions on recruiting.


And pay coaches like Shaw $5 million per year.


NFL Embarrassment: Eight years ago the NFL agreed to a billion dollar settlement to compensate retired players for the brain injuries and dementia they had suffered as a result of on-field concussions.


Payouts to players were based on cognitive test scores that supposedly indicated how significantly the brain injuries had impacted the players’ cognitive function. Lower scores meant higher payouts.


Problem was, the NFL was using “race-norming”, which assumed black players started with a lower cognitive baseline. That made it harder for black retirees to post a low enough score to prove they had brain injury and to qualify for a settlement payout.


Last Wednesday, nine months after two black players filed a civil rights lawsuit over the practice, and medical experts throughout the country had expressed their concern, the NFL finally pledged to eliminate race-based norms in the measurement of cognitive decline.


It's about time. In a league where 59% of the players are black, the NFL’s behavior was particularly disgraceful.

Gary Cavalli - Bowl and League co-founder, author, speaker 

Gary Cavalli, the former Sports Information Director and Associate Athletic Director at Stanford University, was co-founder and executive director of the college football bowl game played in the Bay Area, and previously was co-founder and President of the American Basketball League.

Get in touch//@cavalli49//gacavalli49@gmail.com