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Sports digest: States remain quiet on college athlete compensation

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The NCAA waited nearly a year to issue a warning that there are still rules to follow now that college athletes can earn money off their fame, sparking speculation that a crackdown could be coming for schools and boosters that break them.

But the NCAA isn’t the only enforcement organization that stayed quiet as millions of dollars started flying around college athletes.

Nearly half the states, 24 in all, have laws regarding athlete compensation, all passed since 2019. Several specifically ban the sort of pay-for-play and recruiting enticement deals the NCAA still outlaws and critics of the new system worry about.

Yet those states have shown no appetite to question or investigate the schools, the contracts or the third-party groups orchestrating them. Even if they did, there is little legal framework for how they would do it.

Texas and Florida, two states with major college football and basketball programs, ban pay-for-play contracts and using deals to lure recruits to campus. But neither state set up mechanisms to investigate or punish a school, organization or agent caught breaking the rules.

“A lot of people are referencing the NCAA not taking action, but the same can be said about states,” said Darren Heitner, an attorney who helped craft the Florida law.

The unenforced state bans on pay-for-play and recruiting deals calmed lawmakers who worried that college sports they love were changing, said Heitner, an advocate for athletes’ rights to earn money. But there has been no indication a state attorney general or local prosecutor will go after a big university, coach and wealthy donors if the team is bringing in top players and winning.

Browns QB Watson to meet with NFL: NFL officials will meet this week with Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson as the league continues to investigate whether he violated its personal conduct policy, a person familiar with the plans told The Associated Press on Monday.

Watson, who is facing 22 civil lawsuits from massage therapists accusing him of sexual misconduct, is scheduled to speak with the league’s representatives in Texas, said the person who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.

Watson is facing potential discipline by the league, which is independently investigating his actions while he was with the Houston Texans. Commissioner Roger Goodell said as recently as April 28 at the NFL draft that there was no timeframe on any possible ruling on Watson.

Packers CB Alexander agrees to extension: Green Bay Packers cornerback Jaire Alexander has agreed to terms on a four-year, $84 million contract extension with a $30 million signing bonus, a person familiar with the deal tells The Associated Press.

The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the extension hasn’t been announced. ESPN first reported the deal.

Alexander, 25, was a second-team selection in All-Pro voting in 2020 but played just four games last season before getting sidelined by an injured right shoulder.

Jets sign 1st-rounder Johnson: The New York Jets signed defensive end Jermaine Johnson, the No. 26 overall pick in the NFL draft, to a fully guaranteed four-year, $13.1 million rookie deal Monday.

English soccer player comes out: English soccer player Jake Daniels said he is gay on Monday in a trailblazing moment for the European men’s game.

The 17-year-old forward made the announcement at the end of his first season as a professional player with second division club Blackpool.

“This season has been a fantastic one for me on the pitch,” he said in a statement. “But off the pitch I’ve been hiding the real me and who I really am. I’ve known my whole life that I’m gay, and I now feel that I’m ready to come out and be myself.

“It’s a step into the unknown being one of the first footballers in this country to reveal my sexuality.”

Daniels said he was inspired by Josh Cavallo of Australian team Adelaide United, who is the only openly gay man currently playing in a top division in world soccer following the 22-year-old midfielder’s announcement in October.

Associated Press

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