John Calipari says he's supported players' likeness rights for years

Mrs. Tyler Thompsonalmost 2 years


In an appearance on Kentucky Sports Radio this morning, John Calipari said he’s been a longtime supporter of student athletes owning their name and likeness, which the new California Fair Pay to Play Law will allow beginning in 2023, but has reservations about how it will be regulated.

“I’ve said all along that these kids, their name and likeness is theirs. They own it. I’ve said that from day one. For ten years. Can I basically say by myself? Can I say that and be real?”

“Are we talking categories? Are we protecting shoe contracts that benefit all athletes? Are we talking a group — that not only do football players and basketball players but track and swimming and everyone else gets the same money? So we put it in a pool and the swimmers get exactly what the football players get? What are you talking about?”

With several other states introducing similar bills, including Kentucky, Calipari said he believes whatever the NCAA does won’t be enough, and that the matter will ultimately be for Congress to decide.

“Whatever the NCAA does with this — I think where this goes, and you know I read tea leaves — I think it’s going to have to be settled in Congress. And the reason is because whatever the NCAA does will not be enough. Will not be enough. And you have people who are in their 60s and 70s that are involved in this that won’t be in it when it’s instituted. Where are the 40-year-old people and 45-year-old people who are going to be running this and be involved in this? Those people have to sit down and make decisions on where this will all go? My guess is, it goes to Congress because you can’t have every state having something different.”

Yesterday, Mike Krzyzewski released a statement in support of the law at ACC Media Day, calling for the NCAA to change its laws to adapt to changing landscape in the sport. While Calipari did not mention Coach K by name, he did say he finds it interesting how many coaches are just now coming forward in support of the change when he’s been talking about it for years.

“There are things here that are bigger than – you can’t just say, ‘Yeah, I’m for this.’ You can say that if you’re being political and acting like you’re getting ahead of this. But the reality is, what exactly are you talking about, that you’re for? What are you for? ‘Well, I’m for the players.’ Really. What a good man. This is deeper than you’re thinking.”

“How long have I been talking about this stuff? Eight to ten years? So, if everyone else that is now speaking up would speak up with me back then, we probably would have had movement. But because it was me – and I’ve got black hat, I’m the bad guy, ooh, I’m the boogeyman – no one would jump on board. They’d say, ‘I’m exactly against him.’ When I was doing one-year players, you know, we had guys who came out and said, ‘I would never do that?’ There were guys that said, ‘I would never do that.’ And they all do it, okay? This thing moves slow because we move slow. So I’ve been on this for a while.”

Calipari once again said that he is in favor of allowing players to go straight to the NBA from high school, but doesn’t want education to fall by the wayside.

“Here’s what I would say and I’ll say it again, let the kids go out of high school. Influence kids to come back, be educated even if you think you may go and then when the kids do go to college, how do we take better care of them?”

“Now, the nuts and bolts of it, you won’t believe this, I’m coaching a basketball team and I’m not reading all this, what they’re proposing. I’d like to see what the NCAA puts out. My guess is it’ll never stand up. That’s my guess.”

You can hear the entire interview below.


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