Mike Leach: College athlete endorsements would lead to 'openly buying players without any salary cap'

Washington State coach Mike Leach does not like the idea of college athletes being able to openly make money off their image and likeness rights like any other student.

Leach has previously spoken out about California’s impending law that would allow athletes in the state to take sponsorship and endorsement money. He told Yahoo Sports on Wednesday that college players being able to take money from third parties based on their status as college athletes would be akin to “openly buying players without a salary cap.”

“Obviously bigger schools with bigger media bases and richer alums are always going to have the biggest advantage,” Leach said in the video above. “Because it literally opens the door to buying players without really any salary cap. Even the NFL has a salary cap. This would be openly buying players without any salary cap. None whatsoever. Because virtually anybody can go up to anybody and say ‘Hey, I’ll endorse you for this or that.’”

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Leach’s fears are already a reality in college sports and have been a reality in college sports for quite some time. The recent college basketball corruption trial revealed just how basketball players are being openly bought through shoe companies in the world of basketball recruiting. And you’re a fool if you believe similar things haven’t happened in the world of college football.

While the actual applicability of the California law is in question — it doesn’t go into effect until 2023 and the NCAA could amend its name, image and likeness rules before then — it’s not going to lead to the downfall of college sports as we know it as Yahoo Sports’ Dan Wetzel wrote on Monday. Allowing athletes to capitalize on their prominence as athletes is simply the free market and capitalism at work. And isn’t capitalism a tenet of American society?

If you’re looking for a deeper discussion regarding the potential impacts of college athletes being able to profit off their image rights, you should listen to this week’s episode of the Yahoo Sports College Podcast where Wetzel, Pat Forde and Pete Thamel take a good look at all the foreseen and maybe unforeseen possibilities if athletes had the same individual rights that other students had.

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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