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UCLA Sports

Pac-12 commissioner believes Fair Pay to Play Act won’t help women athletes

Pac-12 Conference Commissioner Larry Scott speaks at Pac-12 media day.
Pac-12 Conference Commissioner Larry Scott believes California’s Fair Pay to Play Act will predominantly benefit only high-profile male college athletes.
(Associated Press)

Pac-12 Conference Commissioner Larry Scott on Tuesday blasted California’s Fair Pay to Play Act, saying it would siphon money from nonrevenue college sports programs while predominantly benefiting high-profile male athletes.

“There’s no doubt in my mind from everything I know in my experience that 99%, plus or minus, will go to men, not to women,” Scott said, “and whatever resources are spent this way will be taken from athletics departments, which runs a significant risk of taking away opportunities for women, as well as men in the Olympic movement.”

Speaking at the Pac-12’s basketball media day at conference headquarters, Scott said the bill signed into law late last month by California Gov. Gavin Newsom would drain money from Olympic sports, diminishing their resources.

“It’ll come from money that’s already going to our campuses, in my view,” Scott said. “It’ll come from donors or local companies that want to support their local program. So there will be less resources, I believe, that our campuses will have, and they’ll have to make some adjustments.”

UCLA coach Mick Cronin is more concerned about freeway traffic than he is about where college basketball pundits believe the Bruins will finish in the Pac-12.
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Scott said his basis for claiming the bill that allows college athletes to cash in on their name, image and likeness would primarily benefit males comes from Forbes’ annual survey of the top-100 grossing athletes in the world.

“There’s 99 men and Serena Williams,” Scott said, referring to the female tennis star.

Scott added that some of the shady dealings involving shoe company payments to players exposed during the college basketball corruption scandal would be openly encouraged under a bill that allows agents to directly negotiate with players.

“I do think we’ve seen the ghost of Christmas future with this FBI deal,” Scott said, “and this California bill, if adopted, would only exacerbate what everyone doesn’t like with what shoe companies have done with college sports.”

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Scott said the Pac-12 would lobby for whatever rules govern its four California schools to apply to its entire membership for equality’s sake, whether by NCAA mandate or otherwise. Pac-12 officials are scheduled to meet with conference athletic directors and campus administrators later this month before meeting with university presidents and chancellors in November.

UCLA has the week off and the Bruins can use it after their latest loss dropped them to 1-5. Coach Chip Kelly hopes his team can get healthier during the break.

The California bill has one strong advocate in Bill Walton, the legendary UCLA center turned basketball analyst.

“I’m in favor of anything and everything that helps the players,” said Walton, wearing a black Pac-12 polo shirt. “Whatever brings the money down, there’s a big pile of money in intercollegiate sports and whatever helps the players, I’m for. I’m a proud Californian.”

Can you dig it?

UCLA players might have checked last week to make sure one visitor at practice wasn’t toting a handheld camcorder, lest they end up on one of basketball’s most famous blooper reels.

It was Shaquille O’Neal, Lakers legend, father of Bruins redshirt freshman forward Shareef O’Neal and host of “Shaqtin’ a Fool,” the TNT lowlight segment that pokes fun at NBA players’ more regrettable moments. Some UCLA players are probably glad there’s not a college edition.

“You don’t make a fool out of yourself in front of Shaq because he’ll talk trash about you,” forward Alex Olesinski said. “I mean, not in a mean way, in a playful way, but still.”

Guard Prince Ali said part of that playfulness involved assessing the form on players’ jumpers.

“He likes to tell everybody their jump shot’s broke,” Ali said, “so he’ll scream ‘Broke’ all day.”

Of course, it might be hard to keep perfect form while practicing in front of an NBA Hall of Famer.

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“I try not to make a big deal of it,” Olesinski said, “but it’s Shaq.”

Etc.

USC senior forward Nick Rakocevic was selected by the media as part of the inaugural 10-player preseason All-Pac-12 first team. Trojans senior guard Jonah Mathews and freshman forward Isaiah Mobley were honorable mention selections. UCLA was shut out of the all-conference teams. … Scott announced the creation of a Pac-12 Coast-to-Coast Challenge involving three conference teams facing opponents from a rotating conference each season. Colorado will face Texas Christian, Washington will face Oklahoma and Oregon will face an opponent to be determined in the inaugural matchups in December 2020 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.


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