UCLA’s Chip Kelly on California’s NCAA reform law: ‘It’s the right thing to do’

UCLA coach Chip Kelly on the sideline against Washington State.
UCLA football coach Chip Kelly is a proponent of California’s NCAA reform bill signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday.
(Getty Images)

Chip Kelly, widely considered an outlier of a football coach, is also something of a renegade when it comes to college athletes getting paid for the use of their names, images and likenesses.

Kelly said Monday he was in favor of the California bill that will line some high-profile players’ pockets starting in 2023, putting the UCLA coach at odds with the school he works for and the conference his team plays in, both strong opponents of the measure.

“I agree with it and I think it’s the right thing to do,” Kelly said of the bill that was signed into law Monday by Gov. Gavin Newsom. “It doesn’t cost the universities, it doesn’t cost the NCAA, and what it did before is it put restrictions on athletes and it no longer does and I think it’s progress. You know, the Olympics used to just be for amateurs. The Olympic model changed over time, so I would imagine the NCAA model has to change over time.”

Demetric Felton, the father of Bruins running back Demetric Felton Jr., said the bill would help athletes cover expenses during parts of the year when they are out of school and do not receive stipends. The elder Felton, a retired Navy chaplain, said he and his wife have spent hundreds of dollars to bridge that financial gap for their son.


Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed a high-profile bill that would allow college athletes to earn money, despite NCAA objections.

Sept. 30, 2019

Felton Sr. also said the measure would help redistribute the massive wealth that athletes have generated and universities have received; in 2016, UCLA agreed to a record $280-million apparel deal with Under Armour. The father noted that the players derived no financial benefit from jerseys being purchased and worn by fans.

“Colleges make big money off of these kids,” Felton Sr. said. “The kids see none of that money. We have to stop using the excuse that they are getting a free education. No, they are being given that in exchange for their athletic ability on the field.”

Felton Sr. noted that many players don’t come from well-to-do families, meaning that extra income could improve their financial standing.

UCLA kicker J.J. Molson, whose family is part owner of the Molson Coors Brewing Company, doesn’t need any additional money but said it might be nice for his teammates.

“For some of the other guys,” Molson said, “it’d be awesome, you know.”