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Utah’s Kyle Whittingham reacts to California legislation news

Utah coach confident a level playing field will be established

Utah Utes head coach Kyle Whittingham pumps his fist after wide receiver Derrick Vickers (8) scored on a 7-yard run, putting the Utes up 31-13 over the Washington State Cougars after the PAT, at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019.  
Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — It didn’t take long for the Pac-12 to weigh in on the passage of a new law in California that allows college athletes to benefit financially for use of their name, image and likeness.

The conference released the following statement shortly after the “Fair Pay to Play Act” was signed by California Gov. Gavin Newsom:

“The Pac-12 is disappointed in the passage of SB 206 and believes it will have very significant negative consequences for our student-athletes and broader universities in California. This legislation will lead to the professionalization of college sports and many unintended consequences related to this professionalism, imposes a state law that conflicts with national rules, will blur the lines for how California universities recruit student-athletes and compete nationally, and will likely reduce resources and opportunities for student-athletes in Olympic sports and have a negative disparate impact on female student-athletes.”

The statement concluded with: “Our universities have led important student-athlete reform over the past years, but firmly believe all reforms must treat our student-athletes as students pursuing an education, and not as professional athletes. We will work with our universities to determine next steps and ensure continuing support for our student-athletes.”

Utah football coach Kyle Whittingham said the NCAA will have to react and enact some form of legislation to make it a level playing field for programs outside of California. However, he added that he didn’t know a lot about it right now to offer a lot of insight other than it doesn’t take effect until 2023.

“I’m sure by then things will get ironed out where it’s equitable. So that’s so far away that we don’t want to deal with it right now. We don’t need to deal with it right now,” Whittingham said. “But I don’t think it’s going to be something that throws everything out of whack. I think they’ll find a way to make it workable.”

Whittingham acknowledged that it’s a possibility that he could be involved in discussions with the NCAA and/or local legislators about it.

“We’ll just have to see what course it takes and how things unfold,” said Whittingham, who anticipates some sort of mass decision will be made on the California law where things work out. “So we’ll see.”