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Jazz players weigh in on law allowing college athletes certain compensation

Members of the media laugh as Donovan Mitchell asks a question of new Jazz guard Mike Conley during Jazz Media Day at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Monday, Sept. 30, 2019.
Members of the media laugh as Donovan Mitchell asks a question of new Jazz guard Mike Conley during Jazz Media Day at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Monday, Sept. 30, 2019.
Steve Griffin, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Donovan Mitchell involved himself in the debate over California’s SB 206 — a bill signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday that allows college athletes to profit from their names and likenesses — back on Sept. 14. Tim Tebow had just offered an impassioned rant in opposition of the bill on ESPN’s “First Take,” and Mitchell quoted a tweet of that video with a succinct, “Oh Tim …”

On Monday night, Mitchell got involved again.

The path toward Mitchell’s comment started with Fox Sports radio host Doug Gottlieb, whose tweet pondered why no one was paying “California G-League stars” for their names and likenesses. Former NFL offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz called him out, asking why that matters when the purpose of the legislation is to give college athletes the same opportunity to profit as G-League players.

Gottlieb responded by saying his original tweet “proves” there’s no value in a college athlete’s name; the value in college athletics rests exclusively with schools and their brands. Which (finally) led Mitchell to quote tweet Gottlieb, noting he’s “at it again” with a facepalm emoji.

A few of Mitchell’s teammates also weighed in Monday. Trevon Bluiett, a camp invitee who’s likely destined for the G-League, graduated from Xavier in 2018 and spent last season in the G-League. He was forceful in his support of the bill.

“It was about time,” he said. “We as athletes in general, we put in a lot of work. A lot of time. And I feel like sometimes, that goes unnoticed. You just see us play on game days and just think the grass is green on the other side, but it’s not. So I just feel like for that to be passed is a step in the right direction.”

Nigel Williams-Goss, a backup guard, played two years at Washington and one at Gonzaga before leaving school early for the NBA draft. The Jazz selected him with the 55th pick in 2017, but he’s spent the last two years playing in Europe. His thoughts on California’s legislation help explain why.

“Part of the reason why I left a year early is because we need to start making money,” he said. “We can only play this game for so long. So the longer you’re not making money, the shorter your professional career is.”

He hopes the law will make it easier for players to complete their education, although he acknowledged his ignorance of its specific changes.