Nell Redmond/Associated Press

Duke's Mike Krzyzewski 'Really Happy' About California's Fair Pay to Play Law

Tim Daniels

Legendary Duke Blue Devils head basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski said Tuesday he's "really happy" California's Fair Pay to Play Act is forcing the NCAA to rethink name, image and likeness (NIL) rights.

"We need to stay current with what's happening," Coach K said, per Matt Norlander of CBS Sports. "I'm glad it was passed because it pushes the envelope, it pushes the issue."

He added: "We've had our head in the sand a lot for college. ... We're not good game-planners for the future. We're reactionary. We don't set the pace."

Norlander also provided a full statement from Krzyzewski on the issue:

The five-time NCAA tournament champion is the first high-profile coach to publicly state his approval of the new law, which has faced backlash within the leaders of college sports.

Last month, NCAA President Mark Emmert called NIL rights an "existential threat" to the collegiate model.

"You've got 50 different states with 50 different labor law rules," Emmert told reporters. "If you move into what are, in essence, labor negotiations, you have to do that state-by-state. … It just falls apart in its complexity."

Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith, a member of an NCAA group evaluating NIL rights, said the law could create a situation where "bad actors" create an uneven playing field, per ESPN's Edward Aschoff:

"My concern with the California bill—which is all the way wide open with monetizing your name and your likeness—is it moves slightly towards pay-for-play and it's very difficult for us—the practitioners in this space—to figure out how do you regulate it. How do you ensure that the unscrupulous bad actors do not enter that space and ultimately create an unlevel playing field?

"One of our principles is try to create rules and regulations to try and achieve fair play."

Yet, several former college athletes, including the Golden State Warriors' Draymond Green, applauded the efforts to force the NCAA's hand.

"Someone needs to force this dictatorship to change because that's exactly what it is," Green told reporters. "It's no different than any country that's run by dictators. The NCAA is a dictatorship."

He added: "I'm tired of seeing people get ripped off, and I'm tired of seeing these college athletes being ripped off."

Krzyzewski is one of the most decorated coaches in the history of college sports, but he's also spent a lot of time working with pro players as head coach of the United States national team en route to winning the gold medal in men's basketball at the 2008, 2012 and 2016 Summer Olympics.

So his opinion on the issue, which so far differs from most others in positions of power within the NCAA structure, should carry a lot of weight.

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