Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith is an involved individual. And, not just with the Buckeyes.

Smith also co-chairs a working group that was appointed in May to examine the issue of athlete name, image and likeness. Why this is important now more than ever is because in the state of California, governor Gavin Newsom has the opportunity of signing a bill that would allow college athletes the ability to make money from their name, image and likeness.

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If Newsom signs the bill, it would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2023. So, there is some time to be had. If the bill does get signed, though, California schools will have an advantage over every other school in the country. After all, these players can much more easily make money than an athlete could in any other state.

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What does this mean?

Well, if California schools are abiding by one set of rules, while the NCAA goes by another, schools in the state out west may not be a part of the NCAA any longer. With that in mind, Smith spoke about the possibility of a disconnect between California schools and the NCAA:

“If the California law goes into effect in ’23,” Smith said Tuesday, “and let’s say the NCAA legislation, how ever it emerges, doesn’t quite meet what California wants it to be and they continue to hold that law, who’s going to play (California schools)? We’re certainly not. They won’t be members of the NCAA. I think that’s going to be the problem.”

Smith talked more about the issue of fair play, again, in regard to student-athletes in California potentially making money off their name, image and likeness where other student-athletes couldn’t:

“I’m a single vote in that,” he said. “My guess is our membership would say yes because one of our principles is fair play, and even in the working group that I’m on, we’re focused on trying to make sure we deal with this in a fair-play way – as best as we can have a level playing field. We know it’s unlevel in a lot of ways, but this could make it unbelievably unlevel.

“So, my position would be, yes, and actually I would really be interested in how the Pac-12 (Conference) will handle those schools who are not in California that are members of the Pac-12. And how those schools will compete against those schools in California who have an unfair advantage because they’ll be able to offer student-athletes benefits that the other schools will not be able to offer. So, yeah, my position would be we walk. …

“What’s fortunate is we have till 2023, and I’m hopeful that once our working group completes its work and the association goes through next year, we can get to a point where we mitigate this. But if it stands as it is, and other states create similar legislation, then we’ve got a big issue. We really do.”

There is a lot that goes into this, and we haven’t seen these potential issues surface yet. A bill has to get passed first. If it doesn’t, then all this talk is for naught.