N.Y. bill paying athletes could return St. John’s basketball to glory

Mike Anderson, Arkansas Razorbacks. St. John's Basketball. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Mike Anderson, Arkansas Razorbacks. St. John's Basketball. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

The court could be leveling for St. John’s basketball. There is a proposed bill in the New York State Senate, designed to compensate collegiate athletes. The Johnnies could have a new weapon to compete for top prospects with the sports big programs.

After a decade of coaches whiffing at being able to recruit and sign top high school players from the five boroughs and beyond, Mike Anderson and the St. John’s Red Storm may have gotten their biggest selling point. Pending legislation that is.

Early this week, New York state senator Kevin Parker (D, WF, Brooklyn) proposed a bill that “allows student-athletes to receive compensation including for the use of a student’s name, image or likeness; allows student-athletes to seek professional representation; requires colleges to establish an injured athlete fund to provide compensation to athletes for career-ending or long-term injuries.”

The proposed “New York Collegiate Athletic Participation Compensation Act” also says college athletic departments are required to equally pay all student-athletes 15 percent of revenue earned from ticket sales.

Sen. Parker told Dan Murphy of ESPN he modeled the bill after California’s Fair Pay to Play Act, which passed the state’s assembly and senate with unanimous votes earlier this month. The California bill would make it illegal for colleges in that state to take away an athlete’s scholarship or eligibility as punishment for accepting endorsement money.

How does this affect St. John’s?

It’s no secret the Red Storm have been unable to recruit top-tier players due to their reputation of being a coaching carousel. Anderson was named the fourth head coach in the last 10 years following Norm Roberts, Steve Lavin, and Chris Mullin.

Through all the change, they’ve only had two players get drafted into the NBA, Moe Harkless a first-rounder in 2012 and Sir’Dominic Pointer a second-round pick in 2015, who hasn’t made it past the G-League. With only three tournament appearances in that span, the Johnnies have failed to gain national exposure.

When St. John’s was at its peak in the 1980s, they had homegrown talent in the likes of Mullin and Mark Jackson. Their impact on the program set the Red Storm up for success in the 1990’s landing Metta World Peace, formerly Ron Artest. Sadly, that’s no longer the case considering premier players rather take their talents hundreds of miles away to play for the Mike Krzyzewski‘s and John Calipari‘s of the world with the hopes of NBA stardom and a big payday.

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However, Anderson finally has the chance to change that. While he’s been hot on the recruiting trail for the Johnnies immediate and future success, his two biggest selling points should be: playing a bulk of their Big East games at Madison Square Garden “The Worlds Most Famous Arena” and the opportunity to make a few bucks.

Besides an education, St. John’s has the opportunity to pay its players. While it’s hard to tell how much money the university makes off ticket sales and what that deducted 15 percent will look like, it’s still better than to get paid and do it in the bright lights of NYC.

While the proposed bill is in the infancy stages in the New York state legislature, it offers hope. Instead of fighting it, the NCAA needs to hop on board.

It’s fun to imagine the New York hoops scene return to prominence with both the Knicks and Nets dominating the NBA’s Eastern Conference as well as St. John’s steadily making the NCAA Tournament all because of a little money earned the legal way.

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