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Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany opposes California's Fair Pay to Play Act

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Ohio State AD against Fair Pay to Play Act (1:03)

Ohio State AD Gene Smith explains why he does not support the Fair Pay to Play Act, which was signed into law in California. (1:03)

Oct 2, 2019

CHICAGO -- Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany opposes the California bill that would prevent schools from penalizing athletes for capitalizing on their names, images and likenesses, saying college sports are "an educational arrangement."

"To me, the outer limit is the cost of college," Delany said during his remarks at Big Ten men's basketball media day. "Once we're beyond the cost of college, we're in pay-for-play and it's a totally different game."

Delany, who will retire at the end of year before Minnesota Vikings executive Kevin Warren takes over as commissioner on Jan. 1, 2020, said each level of competitive sports has its own guidelines and he's content with the current rules in college sports because "we're not the minor leagues."

"The student who plays athletics in the Big Ten is in school to receive an education first," Delany said. "There's an amazing opportunity to get a world-class education here and it's an amazing opportunity to compete in a great conference with great recognition."

The Fair Pay to Play Act, which was signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, would allow collegiate athletes in California to earn endorsement money. Both the Pac-12 and the NCAA have issued statements this week in opposition to the bill, which will become law in 2023.

Lawmakers in other states, including Pennsylvania and Minnesota, have announced plans to put forth similar bills. A Florida lawmaker says he plans to introduce a bill that could propose changing his state's law as early as April 2020.

"As more states consider their own specific legislation related to this topic, it is clear that a patchwork of different laws from different states will make unattainable the goal of providing a fair and level playing field for 1,100 campuses and nearly half a million student-athletes nationwide," the NCAA said in the statement.

While he doesn't agree with the California bill, Delany said the federal government could get involved to create uniform rules.

"Ultimately, there has to be a national solution, whether it comes from Congress or if the NCAA takes a middle road here," Delany said.

Some of the coaches in the league did not back Delany's stance on the issue.

Nebraska's Fred Hoiberg, who had a 10-year NBA career and has been an NBA executive and a college coach at two schools, said the California bill is "progress."

"As a student-athlete, I would love to be compensated for my image and likeness, especially in my hometown," he said. "I do think it's progress, no doubt about that. It's going to take people a lot smarter than me on how to move this in the right direction. But I do think it's progress."

Minnesota's Richard Pitino called the bill a "good idea."

"The more we can get for these guys, the student-athletes, I'm all for it," he said.

Gophers' guard Marcus Carr was pleased with his coaches' position.

"It's huge to know that [Pitino] is behind it, he supports the push and he supports the direction college basketball is going," Carr said. "It's pretty cool to see he has some of the same opinions that we do. ... When the bill got passed, we had a few conversations as a team."

Michigan State's Tom Izzo said he's still learning about the bill and is "wide open" to the possibilities. But the NCAA, he said, should be more proactive on the matter.

"I sure as hell don't think it's a politician's job to get involved in this," Izzo said. "I'm baffled by that a little bit."

Spartan's guard Cassius Winston, the reigning Big Ten player of the year and a consensus preseason All-American, said players deserve the opportunity to market themselves.

"I'm for it," said Winston, who averaged 18.8 PPG and 7.5 APG last season. "If it comes down to that, players are on a really, really huge platform. Everyone has been working on their own brand. And if you can get paid for your brand and your name, why not?"