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Bill proposes to pay college athletes to play

State legislatures in California, Utah and Nebraska introduced bills to pay college athletes and allow them to receive money earned from bowl games, television and endorsements. The bill would also allow college athletes to obtain representation from an agent or agency, according to the Businessweek article “A Whole New Ball Game?”

Steve Janisch, assistant athletics director in charge of media relations at Cal State Long Beach, said that if the bill were to pass, it would create huge problems not only for CSULB, but for every school.

“That bill would open up a whole can of worms,” Janisch said. “Paying athletes and allowing them to get representation while in college could potentially tear a team apart and create personal issues among different teams.”

Although the bill is still in the works and has yet to pass, commercialism is still a present concern at CSULB.

Niall Adler, assistant sports information director, said that at CSULB, promoting top players, getting seats filled and bringing in money seems to be the name of the game.

“We do promote our athletes to the general public, and our top athletes do get top billing in all-America campaigns. The best way for our athletes to be ‘seen’ is still through their performances,” Adler said. “The game-winning goal, game-saving catch or 30-point game is still going to get more attention than anything else. It’s pretty clear an entertaining team brings people into the arena.”

Janisch said commercialism at CSULB is also focused on bringing in community and student support.

“We promote our athletes, as well as our athletic department as a whole,” Janisch said. “We try to get student and community support through promoting in different ways. For example, the 49er Web site, newspapers, television, pep rallies and student organizations.”

CSULB also has commercial sponsors that help to bring in money and support to the athletic program.

“If you look around The Walter Pyramid or Blair Field you will see some of our major sponsors,” Adler said. “They are Coca-Cola, Comerica Bank and Adidas. There are also many local sponsors from Cirivellos Restaurant to Long Beach Airport to the Ayres Hotel. It is important to have a good mix of both to have a successful program.”

Adler said the more people CSULB brings in to fill its venues, the better the entire athletic department is going to do. He said this is not to be looked at as a negative thing because, for example, there are a lot of alumni who come to games and enjoy coming.

“This school has been around since 1949. There are a lot of people that are passionate about this program and this athletic department,” Adler said. “We want to do the best for them in our PR department and in our corporate marketing and everywhere else. They spent part of their life here. They deserve to be proud of their alma mater.”

Adler said that when you see your team or city on national television competing for a national championship, that it’s kind of a neat thing.

“There is a pride factor that doesn’t equate to dollars and cents,” he said.

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