UGA non-committal (for now) on pay-for-play talk

Georgia linebacker Monty Rice’s eyes popped wide open when informed Tuesday that California’s state legislature had passed a bill allowing student-athletes to get paid while in college. Apparently he had heard nothing about it.

“For real? I didn’t know that,” Rice exclaimed after being asked for comment by a reporter.

Rice was briefed on the latest developments in California, then asked again for comment.

“That’s great for California, but it doesn’t really take effect down here, so good for them,” the junior from Madison, Ala., said. “I mean, it’d be cool (to earn income from football), but we can’t really do much about that now. I’m not really a debate person. I just do what I’m told.”

It likely will be a long and legalistic road before paying players and/or allowing them to benefit from their name, image or likeness would become a reality in California. But the repercussions of that decision likely will be felt soon in the football-crazy South.

Georgia coach Kirby Smart was considerably more versed on the subject. His boss, UGA President Jere Morehead, was appointed to the NCAA’s special name, image and likeness committee in May. Morehead is keeping Smart and the rest of the SEC informed about those discussions.

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Georgia has been directly and negatively impacted by the NCAA's current rules that do not allow players to benefit from their own names. Mega-stars Todd Gurley (2014) and A.J. Green (2009) each received four-game suspensions from selling their autograph and/or memorabilia.

Smart wasn’t ready to share his opinion on the subject, however.

“I’d just refer to the SEC on that,” Smart said during his post-practice briefing on Tuesday. “Our commissioner does a great job leading us in the right direction and I know our president has done a great job being on the committee of name, image and likeness. He does a great job. They’ll be looking at all the different angles of it and see how it impacts college football.”