Baton Rouge high school students say they’d opt for a ‘Pay for Play’ college

Local News

BATON ROUGE, La. (NBC Local 33) (FOX 44) — It’s no secret that Louisiana recruits some of the best athletes in the country for its Division I college athletics programs. A good reason for that is the number of student-athletes who go on to be drafted by the NFL, NBA and MLB.

In the past, the Bleacher Report has considered LSU the #1 feeder school for athletes headed to the NFL. Additionally, U.S. News & World Report ranked LSU second in Jan. 2019 with the most NFL players on active rosters. The school fell behind only Nick Saban and the University of Alabama.

In 2017, Forbes ranked Louisiana State University as the second best college in the country when it comes to sending student-athletes to the aforementioned professional sports leagues. The school fell behind only University of California, Los Angeles, because of a lack of players selected to the NBA.

On Monday, California State trustees wanted Gov. Gavin Newsom to veto a bill to let student-athletes seek money beyond the costs of attendance, according to The New York Times. Little did they know, Newsom had already decided to sign the measure and push the state into the spotlight, leading the way for a fight over the economics of college sports.

This week, NBC Local 33 met with student-athletes from Baton Rouge’s Runnels School to get their take on the new law, which is being commonly referred to as the ‘Fair Pay to Play Act,’ California Senate Bill 206.

The law allows college athletes in California to sign endorsement deals on things like their image or likeness without putting their eligibility on the line. Student-athletes at Runnels believe the new law could lift financial burdens for those who compete at the collegiate level.

“As a student-athlete, you probably don’t have time to get a job and pay for extra expenses, so it could really help,” said senior cross-country runner Annie Fink.

“I think that if you put in the work to get noticed by a school that has those benefits, I think you should be able to get it because you worked for it,” added senior baseball player Grayson Gulley.

Fink said she also sees how the law could however, affect team morale. “It could make the certain athlete a bit arrogant, compared to other athletes who aren’t sponsored.”

The new law is also being seen as a recruiting tool that’s pitting sports fans against one another. “If I got an offer from California with this guaranteed money for me, if I could make money out there, then I would go there instead of going to college here,” said senior baseball player Rickey Harrison.

Fink said she agrees with fellow student Harrison. “If a student had the ability to go to California and make extra money, or just go to LSU and be a scholarhship-athlete,” said Fink, “then I think the majority of the time they would pick where they could make money on the side.”

California is the only state allowing its college players to get paid. The new law goes into effect in 2023.

In the interim, the idea of ‘Fair Pay to Play’ could spill over into other states, forcing the NCAA to change its rules. Proponents for the new law argue how the NCAA has profited off of college-athletes. In 2016, the NCAA had revenue exceeding $1 billion, net assets of more than $400 million and a payroll of more than $70 million. The president of the NCAA Mark Emmert, received a salary of $2.4 million, according to the most recent report to the Internal Revenue Service.

The NCAA has since responded to CA SB 206. Read the full statement here.

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