California Law Could Someday Benefit Mid-Major Universities Like Wyoming
A controversial new California law allowing college athletes to profit from their name and likeness without forfeiting their NCAA eligibility may someday even the playing field for mid-major programs like the University of Wyoming.
While NCAA officials and major conference commissioners are railing against the bill, Yahoo Sports columnist Dan Wetzel says similar laws in other states could help smaller schools and conferences recruit athletes.
“When everyone was offering the same package, conference membership mattered," an anonymous athletic director told Yahoo. "Now that they can, at times, offer more money, playing in the Mountain West rather than the Pac-12, it matters a lot less.”
Take, for example, Wyoming linebacker Logan Wilson. The Casper native is good enough to play at any college in the country but he would likely make more money from endorsements at a smaller school. Players with local ties would also stand to benefit more financially, which could encourage recruits to stay closer to home.
Wetzel also argues that athletes from other sports could market themselves. If former All-American Wyoming wrestler Bryce Meredith could have profited from his image and likeness, he would have likely made more money at Wyoming than other schools who prioritize basketball and football.
The rule changes in California would also allow boosters and benefactors to support student-athletes in need through donations. Currently, if a player from an underprivileged background has an emergency or financial hardship, he or she would have to choose between continuing their collegiate career or supporting themselves and their family.
Of course, there would be drawbacks. Wetzel notes that while some athletes may stand to make more money at mid-major universities, their performance could also set off a bidding war for their services in the NCAA transfer portal. Former Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen rose to national prominence as a sophomore. If he had been allowed to market himself, he would have made thousands, possibly millions, by transferring to a major program.
During his college career, Allen was worth millions to Wyoming. A 2018 study estimated that coverage of Cowboys football generated over $46 million in media exposure during his junior season. Allen helped generate even more revenue in ticket sales, merchandise, and business for local merchants. After college, Allen signed a four-year, $22.7 million contract with the Buffalo Bills, but he never made a dime from his Wyoming bobblehead.