Jan 2, 2021; Glendale, AZ, USA; Iowa State Cyclones head coach Matt Campbell against the Oregon Ducks during the Fiesta Bowl at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Iowa State center George Conditt does not need to think long about how changes to name, image and likeness legislation could have impacted him earlier in his college career.
Obviously, at this point, Conditt still can’t profit off of his name, image or likeness in the state of Iowa. A bill pushed heavily by Iowa men’s basketball player Jordan Bohannon never made it to a vote during the latest session of the Iowa Legislature.
Still, the passage of similar laws in states across the country, including six states with laws set to go into effect on July 1 of this year, has prompted most student-athletes to consider how their lives could change if allowed to profit through endorsement deals, camps or other ventures.
“I would have had a car by now, guys,” Conditt told reporters with a laugh. “I wouldn’t be driving on a scooter… I’m excited for (other student-athletes). I can’t wait. I hope it happens (in Iowa) while I’m here but, this is an opportunity that can change people’s lives. Getting great high school players to come to a university or come to Iowa State and being able to make money off their name is a huge thing. It’s a huge step forward.”
While the idea of Conditt, who is nearly 7-feet tall, riding a scooter is hilarious on its own, the last piece of what he had to say and the fact we are already taking steps forward is the important piece.
Student-athletes, especially ones in sports like basketball, certainly are not left out in the cold by these schools, and I don’t want that to be the first thing anyone brings up to me the second I tweet this article out. Kids are given an education, numerous stipends, full cost-of-attendance scholarships, mountains of free gear from companies like Nike and Adidas and whatever else comes along with being a college athlete.
All of those things can be true while still acknowledging that athletes are held back from maximizing their profitability in ways that normal students are not.
Let’s use Conditt as an example for a moment. Nobody will sit here today and argue that Conditt has a guarantee as to what his professional future in basketball will be. Sure, he’s certain to have opportunities to play overseas after his college days are over, but this is not a sure-fire NBA player we’re talking about here.
George Conditt IV might never be more famous (and more profitable) than he is right now at this moment in his life while playing for Iowa State University, a school nationally celebrated for its passionate fanbase. The fact of the matter is for George Conditt, or any athlete who does not reach the pinnacles of professional athletics, to maximize the value of their name, then it requires doing so at the collegiate level when their exposure and reach is still at its highest point.
This is something Iowa State football coach Matt Campbell recognizes about this discussion. Since the day he arrived in Ames, Campbell has preached about his desire to do the best thing for student-athletes during their time at Iowa State and after.
That desire requires being front and center in discussions about how to keep improving day-to-day life for student-athletes and allowing them to get everything they can out of their opportunity to play collegiate athletics.
“Everything we can give our kids or how we can serve our kids to better them both in their beginning process coming to Iowa State or in their ending process leaving Iowa State, I’m all for,” Campbell said last week. “I think as the dust settles here over the next couple months, and maybe even up to a year, of what is it exactly, what are the rules, how is this defined; obviously, I want to be at the forefront because I am a huge believer in making sure that we give our kids every opportunity to take advantage of this four-to-five-year opportunity they would have at Iowa State.”
One of the chief concerns presented by opponents of state-by-state NIL laws has been the perceived creation of an uneven playing field during recruiting efforts. Clearly, this would be an obvious and glaring concern when you consider that kids in some states will have more opportunities than other athletes in other states.
This was one of the biggest pieces of evidence supporting national legislation presented by Gonzaga men’s basketball coach Mark Few on Wednesday during a Congressional Hearing on the subject.
Every state doing their own thing gives this entire movement a Wild West sort of vibe that could probably only end poorly. Still, I was actually somewhat surprised to hear Campbell say he does not necessarily see any of this as a true disadvantage for a school like Iowa State at this point.
“I don’t feel that way,” Campbell said. “I think we’ve always kept the same standards of, ‘Man, who are we looking for? What fits Iowa State football?’ I think that part hasn’t changed and, obviously, just 10 years ago, we gave them cost of attendance. I just think that’s going to continue to evolve and grow as our sports continue to evolve and grow and really the process grows, but I don’t feel like it’s any different today than it was a year ago or two years ago but maybe ask me that in three months in and I’ll have a different answer but at least at this moment I don’t feel that way.”
At the end of the day, the easiest thing for putting all of this behind us would probably be for the NCAA to enact its own rule changes allowing student-athletes these rights without state legislatures of the United States Congress being forced to step in and do it for them. But, unfortunately, the terms easy and NCAA rarely go hand-in-hand outside of when you’re playing FCS Midwest on Freshman difficulty in NCAA Football 14 and throw 13 touchdown passes to the receiver running a deep drag across the middle after you’ve run four verticals 55 times in a row out of six different formations.
Damn it, we need to get this done soon to get these games back sooner rather than later.
We need to get this done sooner rather than later for people like Conditt, too.
If the NCAA and its member schools are as serious as they say they are about making these changes (with Mark Emmert saying on Wednesday they hope to have it done by the end of this month), then Conditt will have a chance to use his social media for his personal gain, and maybe he can stop riding his scooter around Ames.
Even if he doesn’t get that chance, Conditt already knows of someone he shares a locker room with that is going to reap the benefits of these rule changes, and he’s a perfect example of the power loosening name, image and likeness restrictions can have at a place like Iowa State.
Cyclone freshman, and Oskaloosa, Iowa native, Xavier Foster.
“Man, I’ll tell you this, if Xavier stays and they pass that bill, he might be making a lot more money,” Conditt said. “If Xavier stays four years, and they passed that bill while he’s here…”
Much like the NCAA has done with its own legislation over the years, Conditt left the rest of that thought up for interpretation.