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In stunning development, Mark Emmert not a fan of NIL movement; NCAA prez says California law ‘just a new form of professionalism’

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And here I would’ve thought the man in charge of an organization whose goal is to better the lives of student-athletes would be in favor of a movement that would better the lives of student-athletes.  Silly me.

As the train they should’ve been engineering years ago comes barreling toward them in the here and now, the NCAA saw the most “existential threat” to its existence realized earlier this week when California Governor Gavin Newsom signed the Fair Pay to Play Act, which, beginning Jan. 1, 2023, guarantees student-athletes in the Golden State will have the right to market their name, image, and likeness without fear of recrimination from NCAA member institutions.  In the months leading up to that signing and in the days after, nearly a dozen other states indicated they were in some form or fashion in the process of crafting similar legislation, with the promise of additional states climbing along for the NIL ride as well.

In an exclusive interview with the Indianapolis Star, NCAA president Mark Emmert made his first public comments since the legislation was signed into law.  On the one hand, Emmert sounded open to the concept of NIL…

… there is broad-based support for the things the NCAA is already doing around name, image and likeness.

… and that these are areas in which The Association can improve…

We have 1,100 member schools and after talking to a full cross-section of presidents, athletic directors, the vast majority of them all see and recognize this is an area where we need to continue to evolve our rules. We spent the past decade improving as students’ needs changed and made great strides in that direction. Here is another opportunity to address another change going on in the lives of students. People aren’t putting their head in the sand, in fact the contrary.

… while even going so far as acknowledging the NCAA should’ve gotten out in front of this issue a decade ago (ya think???)…

You always want to be more proactive on any of these issues. Do I wish it had been started 10 years ago? Sure but the fact is we were not in a place where we could do it.

… before sliding right back into the tried and true trope of the NCAA, whose members make billions upon billions of dollars annually and whose coaches make millions upon millions annually off the backs of student-athletes, fighting against the inexorable march toward professionalism in collegiate athletics…

This is just a new form of professionalism and a different way of converting students into employees. (They may be) paid in a fashion different than a paycheck, but that doesn’t make them not paid.

Yeah, that’s not even remotely correct.  The students forming a union to collectively bargain for their rights, that is converting students into employees.  What this would do is allow student-athletes the right to profit off their own names, images and likenesses, just as any English or music major can do while they are still enrolled in school.  That’s all it is, nothing more.  You’ve allowed what was a molehill a few years ago to turn into a mountain that you simply can’t successfully climb, all in an effort to keep your thumb firmly pressed on an underpaid group of individuals who are in large part responsible for the burgeoning financial windfall college football has realized over the past decade.

Besides, given the choice, wouldn’t member institutions prefer athletes profiting off themselves rather than unionizing and inevitably eating into their own (immense) profits?

Title IX a half-century ago didn’t lead to doomsday for collegiate athletics as prophesied.  Hell, just a few years ago, increased stipends were going to lead to college football Armageddon according to some; they didn’t… and this won’t either — with the eventual help of the federal government, of course.

Ole Miss pulls in second transfer from a university in Canada

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From Oh Canada to Ole Miss football?  I’m thinking one recruit might be in for a little culture shock.  Actually, make that two.

Last month, a Canadian college football player, the University of Guelph’s Tavius Robinson, committed to Ole Miss football.  On Twitter Wednesday, Deane Leonard did the same. The cornerback comes to the SEC school from the University of Calgary.

“First off I’d like to thank my friends, family, and coaches that have supported me through this process,” Leonard wrote. “I can’t thank each and every one of you enough for all that you’ve done for me over the years. Love you guys!

“With the cancellation of the USports season I’ve decided it’s in my best interest to look at my options down south.

“With that being said, I’ll be transferring to Ole Miss to complete my collegiate career.”

During his time at That Country Up North, Leonard appeared in 23 games.  In that action, the defensive back was credited with 47 tackles, 19 passes defensed, six interceptions, two forced fumbles, one tackle for loss, one sack and one block.  He also returned five kicks for 124 yards (24.8 average) and 19 punts for 195 yards (10.3 avg.).  One of those punts was returned for a touchdown.

Both Leonard and Robinson are expected to be immediately eligible for new head coach Lane Kiffin and the Rebels.

SEC commish issues statement in wake of Big Ten’s seismic announcement

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It didn’t take long for the most powerful man in SEC football country to respond to what the B1G wrought.

As you may have heard, the Big Ten confirmed Thursday afternoon that it will be going with a conference-only football schedule for the 2020 season.  That was the first significant Power Five domino to tip, but it certainly won’t be the last.  In the coming days, or perhaps next week, the ACC and Pac-12 are expected to make a similar announcement.  The Big 12 and SEC, though, are widely expected to kick that football scheduling can down the road a bit longer, perhaps as late as the end of July.

Not long after the B1G announcement, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey released a statement addressing just where his conference is at decison-wise.

The Southeastern Conference will continue to meet regularly with our campus leaders in the coming weeks, guided by medical advisors, to make the important decisions necessary to determine the best path forward related to SE Fall sports.  We recognize the challenges ahead and know the well-being of our student-athletes, coaches, staff and fans must remain at the forefront of those decisions.

Again, it’s expected that the SEC will make a decision on the football path it will take later this month.  Barring unforeseen circumstances pushing up that timeline, of course.

Big Ten commish, Ohio State AD decidedly pessimistic on B1G having a 2020 college football season

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The Big Ten toppled the first significant domino earlier in the day.  Now, two of the most powerful men in the conference are expounding on the development.  And, if you’re a fan of the sport, you might want to close your eyes when reading the next few paragraphs.  Or take several shots of an adult beverage before proceeding.

Thursday afternoon, the Big Ten confirmed reports that it will be going with a conference-only football schedule for the 2020 season.  All other fall sports are impacted in the same way.

In television appearances following the announcement, the B1G’s commissioner didn’t put a positive spin on football’s immediate future.

“One thing we have to realize is that this is not a fait accompli that we’re going to have sports in the fall,” Kevin Warren flatly stated. “We may not have sports in the fall, we may not have a college football season in the Big Ten. …

“We made a vow early on that, first and foremost, we would put the health, the safety and the wellness of our student-athletes at the center of all of our decisions.

Gene Smith was equally pessimistic.

“I can’t reiterate enough the fact that we might not play,” the Ohio State athletic director said in discussing football in 2020. “We just might not, and I think people need to understand that.”

It’s expected that other Power Five conferences will follow the lead of the Big Ten.  In the coming days, both the ACC and Pac-12 will most likely announce a conference-only football schedule.  The lone exception will be the ACC including Notre Dame, which already has six games against the conference on its 2020 slate, in any revamped schedule.

The Big 12 and SEC are widely expected to kick the scheduling can down the road a bit longer, perhaps as late as the end of July.  In the end, however, both of those Power Fives are likely to come to the same scheduling conclusion.

Ole Miss, Georgia State announce football/basketball weekend in Oxford for 2026 season

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Ole Miss has been busy on the football scheduling front the past couple of months.  This one, though, comes with a twist.

Both Ole Miss and Georgia State announced Wednesday a future football game between the two FBS programs.  That game will be played at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on Nov. 21, 2026.  The night before, however, the Rebels and Panthers men’s basketball teams will meet in Oxford as well, the schools announced.

The football game will mark the first-ever meeting in the sport between the SEC Sun Belt Conference members.  As GSU noted, though, that “[b]y the time of the match-up in 2026, the football team will be playing at least its seventh different member of the Southeastern Conference, including a 38-30 win over Tennessee last fall.”

Since the end of May, Ole Miss has announced future football games against South Alabama (HERE), Alcorn State (HERE) and Charlotte (HERE).

The Rebels will enter the 2020 campaign under new leadership.  In early December, Matt Luke was fired after three seasons.  Five days later, Lane Kiffin was hired.

In the third season under Shawn Elliott, GSU went 7-6 this past year. It was a five-win improvement from the 2-10 record the year before. In Elliott’s first season, the Panthers went 7-5. The seven wins are the best-ever for the Georgia State football program since moving to the FBS level in 2013.