Kirby Smart: NCAA needs to assure a ‘level playing field’

Georgia coach Kirby Smart seemed to be as surprised as anybody about the NCAA's sudden decision Tuesday to allow student-athletes to get paid.

The NCAA’s Board of Governors, meeting at Emory University in Atlanta, voted unanimously Tuesday for collegiate athletes to be allowed to make money for the use of their name, image and likeness. But it’s the committee's caveat that it be done “in a manner consistent with the collegiate model” that has everybody wondering what that will look like.

» MICHAEL CUNNINGHAM: Changes are only cosmetic

Count Smart among that set.

“To be honest with you, I don’t know, and I’m not smart enough to know and understand exactly how it’s going to affect the future,” Smart said after the Bulldogs’ practice Tuesday. “I do trust the hands that it’s in and the committee that has been formed to look into it. I think they’ll do a tremendous job.”

In truth, the decision left more questions than answers, and that’s why Smart wants to reserve judgment. He figures he’s like most coaches in that his chief concern is that it doesn’t create a competitive advantage for some teams over others.

“Our biggest concern as coaches across the country, is it going to be an even playing field? The biggest concern is state to state of not being balanced. If it comes out balanced state to state, we’re all playing on the same playing field.”

Smart said the NCAA’s actual proposal is not expected to be made until January 2021, so there’s time to work out the details.

“That still seems like a long way off in my mind,” Smart said. “We’ll have to prepare and whatever they decide to go with, we’ll deal with it. I don’t have enough information to form a complete opinion on it or understand it completely.”