As political pressure has started to meet societal pressure around the issue of college players being paid, the NCAA appears ready to make some actual change to its policy. After years of heavy debate, the tide has swung pretty heavily towards broad support for rules allowing for players to be paid for use of their Name, Image, and/or Likeness, commonly shortened to “NIL.” Now, Mitt Romney has weighed in, and it probably hasn’t gone the way he had hoped.
California, with some help from LeBron James, really spearheaded this a few months ago. Now, both red and blue states are working to pass their own bills to pressure the NCAA to open up its rulebooks to allow players to be paid for their efforts.
On Tuesday, the NCAA acknowledged the need to evolve in that area, before the states force its hand. While many jumped to laud the press release it put out, the actual details it put out are far less encouraging for those who want true sweeping reform.
Among the main concerns that the release, and others, raise is the one of “fair compensation.” Obviously, how this whole system works is an open question, but the rush to limit what a college athlete might actually make due to some vague fears over “fairness,” months if not years before any changes are implemented is a bit much.
That goes double for someone like Utah senator Mitt Romney.
The 2012 Republican Presidential candidate appeared on ESPN’s Outside The Lines today to open up those questions, saying that college sports can’t have some athletes “driving around in Ferraris.”
"What you can't have is a couple athletes driving around in Ferraris while everybody else is basically having a hard time making ends meet."@MittRomney, who's in favor of athlete compensation for name, image and likeness, explains there needs to be adjustments to the approach. pic.twitter.com/R38klYEDSk
— Outside The Lines (@OTLonESPN) October 30, 2019
Many were quick to point out the hypocrisy in Romney, someone whose net worth is reportedly in the nine-digit range, and spent much of his 2012 campaign railing against Barack Obama, saying the now-former president aimed to redistribute the country’s wealth.
Mitt Romney on OTL: “You don’t want to have a situation where some players are driving around a campus with a Ferrari” he continued: “making a million dollars lording over the other students.” … I have sent this tweet without an ass because it fell off from laughing so hard.
— Mike Ryan Ruiz (@MichaelRyanRuiz) October 30, 2019
I support quarter-billionaire Mitt Romney's plan to buy matching Ferraris for every student-athlete https://t.co/1ON3xwc2bF
— ok boomer sooner (@thejasonkirk) October 30, 2019
Change “a couple of athletes” to “corporate executives” and you’ve turned Mitt Romney into Bernie Sanders. https://t.co/MM3moT0fFh
— Luke Bonner (@LukeyBonner) October 30, 2019
Conservatives are forever hollering about a free market and capitalism, and yet….
— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) October 30, 2019
Obviously, rules need to be worked out, but the notion that major college athletics have ever been rooted in fairness is laughable.
In the 2019 football class, just 17 of the 130 FBS schools landed a single five-star recruit, or about 13-percent. In men’s basketball, it is even more unbalanced, with the entire class of five-star players going to 15-of-351 schools (4-percent).
“Unfairness” within the locker room has also been an issue at every level, whether it is with pay, playing time, or another factor. You can’t legislate it out of sports with an NIL rule, and no one even considered doing something about it before the issue at hand became “amateur” athletes being paid.