Gavin Newsom

California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks at a news conference July 23 in Sacramento, Calif. The NCAA’s Board of Governors is urging Newsom not to sign a California bill that would allow college athletes to receive money for their names, likenesses or images.

The NCAA has this fantasy that it’s riding in on a white horse to save everyone from evil California politicians who want college athletes to be paid for the use of their name, image and likeness. In reality, NCAA President Mark Emmert rides in on a broken-down burro, emblematic of his organization’s total lack of credibility.

At issue is Senate Bill 206, which passed by a 73-0 vote in the California Assembly on Monday and 39-0 by senators on Wednesday and is now is in the governor’s hands.

The bill was authored by state Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, and its co-author is state Sen. Steven Bradford, D-Gardena.

The NCAA sent a letter to California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday, threatening to ban California NCAA member institutions from competing in NCAA sanctioned competitions. The NCAA also called the legislation unconstitutional, which is total bunk.

“If the bill becomes law and California’s 58 NCAA schools are compelled to allow an unrestricted name, image and likeness scheme, it would erase the critical distinction between college and professional athletics and, because it gives those schools an unfair recruiting advantage, would result in them eventually being unable to compete in NCAA competitions,” the letter said.

Talk about unintentional comedy. First, at the highest level of NCAA competition in football and men’s basketball, there is no “critical distinction” between amateur and professional athletics. That was erased many years ago.

Now to the part about an “unfair recruiting advantage,” that is true. It’s one of the brilliant aspects of the legislation. California lawmakers aren’t trying to give California schools an unfair advantage in athletics. They’re trying to force the hand of the NCAA and federal government to give athletes at every school in the country the right to be paid for the use of their name, image and likeness.

The letter goes on to state, “This bill would remove that essential element of fairness and equal treatment that forms the bedrock of college sport.”

As the kids would say, LMAO.

Fairness? Why is it that the same five or six football teams win the national title every year? And why is it that only about eight teams, give or take, can realistically win the NCAA men’s basketball national title each year? There are more than 350 Division I men’s basketball teams, by the way.

Does that sound like the epitome of fairness?

I’ve never supported paying college athletes in the traditional sense, such as a salary or stipend, simply for playing. Athletes on full scholarships are already getting a free education, one that costs many non-scholarship students and their families more than $100,000 or even $150,000.

The fatal flaw with paying college athletes in that fashion is that while universities and the NCAA make hundreds of millions of dollars from athletics, the majority of that revenue comes from very specific sources.

This creates an impossible situation when it comes to equitable distribution of those monies.

There are only two revenue-generating sports at the collegiate level — football and men’s basketball. Within those sports, there is a very small number of athletes who are star players.

While former Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray certainly created a significant amount of revenue, the left guard on his team does not. Zion Williamson was a superstar for one year at Duke, but the small forward at New Mexico State has no economic impact.

How does one go about compensating the 99% of players who don’t drive revenue in those sports? And how would that work with the non-revenue sports like baseball, softball, tennis, swimming, soccer and every other sport on campus?

It doesn’t.

That’s why SB 206 makes so much sense. It doesn’t have universities pay athletes to play.

For the star athletes who drive so much revenue, they can now be paid in a way that conforms with our nation’s capitalist ideals.

A player like Kyler Murray can make money by signing autographs or memorabilia. A Zion Williamson can be paid for having his name, image and likeness used in a video game. A Deandre Ayton can be paid for having his face or name plastered on T-shirts and jerseys.

Star players wouldn’t be the only athletes to benefit, but they would see the biggest financial return.

This bill is the best solution yet to the controversial issue of playing college athletes. Two South Carolina lawmakers, state Sen. Marlon Kimpson, D-Charleston, and Rep. Justin Bamberg, D-Bamberg, have announced plans to file legislation similar to California’s SB 206 in their state.

More will follow. LeBron James has voiced his support of California’s bill.

Mark Emmert and his toothless NCAA aren’t saving anyone by trying to fight the implementation of this law. And it’s absurd that this, not corruption, bribery or sexual abuse scandals, is the battle the NCAA has chosen to try and play tough guy.

The NCAA has no credibility or moral high ground on this issue. Whose interests is Emmert serving? It's not the athletes' interests, and that’s all you need to know.