Gonzaga coach Mark Few has commented three times in the last week on California’s Fair Pay to Play Act that gives student-athletes an opportunity to profit from their name, image and likeness (NIL) beginning in 2023.
Each time, Few reiterated he supports athletes having NIL rights as long as it can be regulated and the playing field stays level, but his comments about “grandstanding politicians” in a 3-minute, 48-second video clip posted on Twitter Monday night sparked some backlash on social media.
Asked for his NIL opinion by Stadium’s Jeff Goodman, Few described it as “an incredibly complex issue. It’s like health care in America.” He noted that he has confidence in an NCAA panel working on the NIL issue before turning his attention toward California Gov. Gavin Newsom.
“What I find totally disappointing and just disgusting is that a governor is wasting his time grandstanding around in something that he really doesn’t understand when .00001 percent of his constituents are going to be impacted by this,” Few said. “He should probably stay in his lane, like I tell my players, figure out homelessness and I think he has a state that borders Mexico and get that mess figured out. And the budget, and some things like that.”
Few said the NCAA has taken positive steps in the last decade, such as the cost of attendance stipend, before adding, “Some of these quotes you read are just amazing. I read one of the sponsors of the bill was saying that schools are making billions of dollars. I mean, really? Very few schools are making millions. There isn’t a school out there that’s making billions, OK, so let’s get that straight.
“And then we’re saying the athletes have one pair of socks that’s dirty and all that. They need to come see how Gonzaga’s athletes are treated and living and how much better it is now, and the fact that all their education is paid for. They don’t want for anything.”
Few was criticized by several outlets, including Deadspin.com, NBCsports.com and Complex.com.
“The chirping class was quick to tell Few he was wrong, that a governor passing a bill with overwhelming support in the state legislature is not exactly radical,” Complex.com’s Alex Galbraith wrote, “and that he should take his own advice and stay in his lane, which is about 14 hours northeast of Sacramento.”
“The weird thing about this quote from Few is he basically takes a two-minute roller coaster ride to get to the point where he’s saying that he’s all for players making $ off NIL,” The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie tweeted. “That two-minute roller coaster ride is what’s going to get pulled, though. And it’s … an adventure.”
Few received strong support from numerous twitter commentators responding to Goodman’s post.
“What he said makes absolutely perfect sense!” one wrote. That prompted another to reply: “A perfectly reasonable take by Few and he’ll still be ripped coast to coast by the pay the players brigade.”
Few pointed out that Rui Hachimura, a standout on last year’s team, would have had abundant endorsement opportunities and “I would have been all for it and I am all for it.
“But I’m not all for grandstanding politicians entering in or media members pulling low-hanging fruit off. But again, there’s some really, really smart people that have been in our work space for a while and I think we’ll make the right decisions as long as people don’t panic and try to do things based on because the public’s getting a little antsy.”