Granting college athletes the right to market their own name, image and likeness is now a full-fledged political issue, thanks largely to the state of California. And, despite the rhetoric you hear in large pockets of the country about California politicians, it seems most Americans agree with them.
Seton Hall University released a poll on Thursday that found 60 percent of the 714 American adults polled agreed that college athletes should be allowed to market their own names, compared to only 32 percent opposed. Those numbers are in stark contrast to similar polls from recent years. In 2013, 71 percent of poll respondents felt a scholarship was sufficient compensation for college athletes, and 60 percent still felt that way as recently as 2017.
Two years later, public opinion was perfectly flipped.
Unsurprisingly, the numbers broke sharply among age lines. Eighty percent of respondents between 18 and 29 years old sided with college athletes, while only 50 percent among those 60 and over did.
In a number that would likely receive 100 percent report among both the state lawmakers trying to overthrow the NCAA’s business model and the NCAA administrators themselves, 59 percent of respondents believed the NCAA should run the process, not state governments.
“The public clearly supports allowing student/athletes to profit from the use of their name, image and likeness but also clearly is supportive of the NCAA, college sports’ governing body, to oversee the process,” said Rick Gentile, director of the Seton Hall Sports Poll.
Lawmakers from a number of states have announced plans to introduce copyright legislation to California’s Fair Pay to Play Act, and news of this poll will likely inspire even more imitators. We’ll see if it spurs anyone ensconced inside the NCAA’s ivory tower.