Calipari calls for Kentucky to follow California in allowing players to profit

Jerry Tipton, Lexington Herald-Leader on

Published in Basketball

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Kentucky coach John Calipari broke his public silence on the California law permitting college players to profit off their names, images and likenesses in commercial endorsements.

Speaking on Wednesday morning's Kentucky Sports Radio show, Calipari said, "These kids, their name and likeness is theirs. They own it."

But when host Matt Jones asked if Calipari fully supported the idea of college players working as commercial pitchmen and pitchwomen, the UK coach cited complications that made a direct answer difficult.

What about a possible conflict with a shoe contract that has a deal with a school's athletic department, he asked. And would, say, a swimmer receive the same compensation as a football player?

"You can't just say, 'yeah, I'm for this,' " Calipari said. "Now, you can say that if you're being political and acting like you're getting ahead of this. But the reality of it is what exactly are you talking about you're for? 'Well, I'm for the players.' Really?"

Then Calipari added in a sarcastic tone, "What a good man."


Then he said, "I mean, this is deeper than you're thinking."

A law signed by California Gov. Gavin Newsom this fall put the Name Image Likeness issue at college athletics' center stage. The law, which does not go into effect until 2023, permits athletes at California colleges to profit off commercial endorsements and to hire agents to set up deals. The law does not permit athletes to endorse products that are in competition with a school's deal. To bring it home, a UK player could not endorse, say, Meijer when the school has Kroger as a commercial partner.

After noting that other states have expressed interest in following California's example, Calipari said, "I'm ready to go to our state House. Let us come out with one (law)."

Calipari then considered how impractical it would be if each of the 50 states enacted its own version of a law on Name Image and Likeness.


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