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Jim Delany opposes California’s Fair Pay to Play Act, Big Ten coaches weigh in

On his way out, Jim Delaney takes issue with legislation that would pay athletes for their likenesses.

NCAA Basketball: Big 10 Media Day Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Jim Delany took to the podium for the final time as the commissioner of the Big Ten during basketball media days in Rosemont, Illinois on Wednesday.

One of the more notable plot threads going on in college athletics right now has to do with California’s Fair Pay to Play Act, which was just signed by Governor Gavin Newsom, which would allow college athletes to receive compensation for use of their likenesses. Lawmakers across the country are considering similar bills, including Florida, who’s law could go into effect as soon as 2020.

As expected, Delany sides with other conference commissioners in opposition of the idea of the rule.

“To me, the outer limit is the cost of college,” Delany said, who is retiring and giving way to Kevin Warren as the new commissioner effective Jan. 1, 2020. “Once we’re beyond the cost of college, we’re in pay-for-play and it’s a totally different game.”

Delany also said that he is totally fine with how the current rules are because college sports are not the minor leagues for the professional teams.

“The student who plays athletics in the Big Ten is in school to receive an education first,” Delany said. “There’s an amazing opportunity to get a world-class education here and it’s an amazing opportunity to compete in a great conference with great recognition.”

Delany thinks that is possible that the federal government gets involved, citing the need for universal rules.

“Ultimately, there has to be a national solution, whether it comes from Congress or if the NCAA takes a middle road here,” Delany said.

Delany’s comments were not echoed from the coaches in attendance at basketball media days. Nebraska head coach Fred Hoiberg, who was a star at Ames High School in Iowa before a playing career at Iowa State, says that lawmakers stepping up is “progress” for players and that he wishes it was around when he was playing.

“As a student-athlete, I would love to be compensated for my image and likeness, especially in my hometown,” he said. “I do think it’s progress, no doubt about that. It’s going to take people a lot smarter than me on how to move this in the right direction. But I do think it’s progress.”

Most other Big Ten coaches essentially echoed Hoiberg’s sentiments, but Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo said that the NCAA needs to be proactive about this and not make it a political issue.

“I sure as hell don’t think it’s a politician’s job to get involved in this,” Izzo said. “I’m baffled by that a little bit.”

Michigan head coach Juwan Howard was not ready to make any comments on the issue, saying that he has not researched it enough and that his focus in recent days has been on his players and the functions of his job in his first year.

We will have more from Howard, along with Isaiah Livers, Jon Teske and Zavier Simpson, from media day in Rosemont as Wednesday rolls along.