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Wisconsin university officials react to California law allowing student athlete compensation

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MADISON (CBS 58) – Some of Wisconsin’s top college athletics officials expressed concern following the signing of a California law that will allow college athletes in that state to be compensated.

Under the law, which goes into effect in 2023 and is the first of its kind in the country, athletes in California’s public and private colleges can hire agents and make money from endorsements.

Advocates of the law say it brings fairness to college athletics, but critics, including the NCAA, believe it jeopardizes the amateur nature of the competitions.

At a panel discussion hosted by WTMJ-AM Monday, UW-Madison Athletic Director Barry Alvarez said the law in California could have implications for schools in Wisconsin.

“My opinion, they probably wouldn’t be able to play for a national championship,” Alvarez said. “I wouldn’t schedule anyone from California right now. If they have different rules than we do, and all of a sudden, they’re not amateurs.”

In a statement, UW-Madison said it has not stopped scheduling competitions with California universities but that it, “will continue to monitor the situation between now and the law’s effective date of 2023.”

The statement goes on to say, “we also expect discussions will take place among Big Ten Conference schools in the coming months which will inform our approach on these issues.”

Alvarez added he is worried about the ripple effect the California law could have.

“I’m very concerned with it and I think it will affect our game greatly, and believe me, I want to do as much as we possibly can for our student athletes.”

Bill Scholl, Vice President and Director of Intercollegiate Athletics at Marquette University, echoes that sentiment.

“I think at the end of the day, it’s not the right route to go,” Scholl told CBS 58 in an interview. “I think it’d be very difficult for all of us to have 50 sets of rules if each of the individual states begin to pass laws that govern how we’re supposed to manage our student athletes. […] I’d much rather see it handled by the NCAA.”

The NCAA released a statement in response to California’s new law which read, in part, “the NCAA agrees changes are needed to continue to support student-athletes, but improvement needs to happen on a national level through the NCAA’s rules-making process.”

The statement goes on to say, “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.”

Gov. Newsom hopes what has been accomplished in California can spread across the country.

“This is the beginning of a national movement – one that transcends geographic and partisan lines,” said Gov. Newsom. “Collegiate student athletes put everything on the line – their physical health, future career prospects and years of their lives to compete. Colleges reap billions from these student athletes’ sacrifices and success but, in the same breath, block them from earning a single dollar. That’s a bankrupt model – one that puts institutions ahead of the students they are supposed to serve. It needs to be disrupted.”

Newsom signed the bill, known as the Fair Pay to Play Act, into law during an episode of The Shop – a program created by NBA star LeBron James.


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