Rovell: California Wants NCAA Athletes to Have Endorsements, But That’s Not What Will Happen


Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Governor of California, Gavin Newsom.

Oct 01, 2019, 05:50 PM EDT

On Monday, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill into law that will allow college athletes in the state to profit off their name, image and likeness.

The NCAA has been threatened many times with an assault on their amateurism model, but this is its greatest threat. A state law that would supersede the NCAA’s current rules and agenda.

While I am not a fan of straight-up pay, given how it creates issues with students becoming employees, I have long advocated for college athletes to get a cut of their jersey sales and to be able to sign autographs.

The endorsement part, however, is a very slippery slope, because it is not, in any way, genuine.And much of the public arguing for the athletes here are unaware of its consequences.

There are 130 FBS schools and 353 Division I basketball schools. These rosters have 15,639 scholarship players.

Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that the top 50 programs could have two players in their market endorsing a total of two products each, and then the next 25 schools have one player in each sport endorsing one product. That’s 125 football players and 125 men’s basketball players (250 total).

That’s 1.6% of the players.

NFL players who do endorsement deals in local markets have deals that range from free products to cash fees as high as $300,000.

Let’s be generous and call  $100,000 the average deal for collegiate athletes.

So going back to our cohorts above:

  • The 100 players from the top 50 schools would each get $200,000 per athlete in new-found cash — or $20 million total — that’s not coming at the expense of the school.
  • The 50 players from schools ranked 50-75 would each get $100,000 per athlete — or $5 million total

So we’re talking about $25 million.

But here’s the spoiler: That’s not what will happen.

What will happen?

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