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The Russell Report: A tough year for NCAA basketball; and new legislation for NCAA athletes

Published: Feb. 8, 2021 at 4:29 PM EST
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - COVID-19 reared its ugly head again and postponed Gator Men’s Basketball and Volleyball games this past weekend and who knows what else lies ahead?

It’s a tremendous strain on everyone, from athletes and coaches to administrators and fans, but it is the reality we are in. This year, making an NCAA Tournament field is a good thing and that should be the goal of every Gator athletic team this year. Not that it isn’t every year, but just take a look at men’s basketball powerhouses like Kentucky, Michigan State, Duke and North Carolina. Those bluebloods will probably not make the NCAA Tournament. What were the odds of that before the start of the season?

I know things may not go exactly as fans want them to go, but I’m telling you, making the tournament this year, given everything that’s going on, will be quite an accomplishment.

Lebron James is a great basketball player, and when he’s done, he’ll be one of the best ever. And I don’t think he gets enough credit for what he’s done on the court and for that matter, what he does off of it.

He never gets in trouble and he’s donated millions to help others. But now, he’s not happy the league is going to put on an all-star game in the middle of a pandemic, calling it ‘a slap in the face.’ Of course, the need to play this game in the first place is absolutely zero. It’s a money grab by the owners and I’m not sure fans even care if the game is played or not. But if you’re going to play a regular-season in a pandemic, then why all the fuss about one more game where fans can see the best players in the world at one time? To LeBron’s credit, he says he will show up if he’s voted in but this seems like a lose-lose proposition all the way around.

Very quietly, another bill has been introduced in Congress that would make it illegal for the NCAA or any other college sports association to put any kind of limit on how much money a student-athlete can make on endorsement deals they may sign.

This bill is different in that it is the only one proposed so far that does not allow congress, the NCAA, or anyone else to limit or regulate what products athletes can endorse. And the new legislation also prohibits the NCAA or specific conferences from doing anything to stop athletes from organizing to collectively sell their licensing rights, something needed to get revenue from such things as jersey sales or their likeness being used in video games. Some form of name, image, and likeness legislation could become law as early as this year. Change is coming.

Finally, if you didn’t think Tom Brady was the GOAT before, guess what? He is now.

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