Football: Pat Fitzgerald talks about California’s Fair Pay to Play act

Peter Warren, Print Managing Editor

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the Fair Play to Pay Act on Monday morning that will allow student-athletes in the state to be compensated for their likeness, and the decision has sent shockwaves throughout the country.

Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said Monday he did not know enough about the bill to specifically discuss the measure, but added he was “a proponent of whatever is in the best interest of student-athletes.” The 2018 Big Ten Coach of the Year never mentioned paying players during the press conference.

He did say he has a “pretty good” perspective on the situation due to his success as a player and his tenure as a coach.

“There’s a lot of things that I look at our guys and say, ‘I wish I could do this’ or ‘I wish I could do that,’” Fitzgerald said. “Someday maybe we will be able to. But that list has gone down exponentially.”

Fitzgerald’s biggest point of emphasis was to not create measures that heavily favor football and basketball. The Illinois native said it is important that athletes of all sports get the same opportunities as others.

“I just really really hope it’s not just for football and basketball,” Fitzgerald said. “That, I do know. Because I think that would really change what college sports is all about.”

As of Monday night, the Big Ten Conference had not released a statement about the new California law.

The NCAA has been open with its disdain for the bill, and released a statement Monday that continued to express its disappointment in the now-passed legislation.

“Unfortunately, this new law already is creating confusion for current and future student-athletes, coaches, administrators and campuses,” the statement said, “and not just in California.”

The NCAA did admit, however, that changes are needed.

Newsom, who played college baseball at Santa Clara, signed the bill on an episode of “The Shop,” LeBron James’ HBO show.

“Collegiate student-athletes put everything on the line — their physical health, future career prospects and years of their lives to compete,” Newsom said. “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.”

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