California Signs ‘Fair Pay to Play Act’

The state of California has signed into law the Fair Pay to Play Act. Governor Gavin Newsom signed the bill into law Monday.

The bill sets a precedent for how student-athletes can be financially compensated. What the bill does is prevent the NCAA from barring student-athletes from profiting off their name or likeness. However, this does not mean that colleges and universities have to pay their athletes. What the bill does is make it illegal for schools to prevent athletes from profiting off the rights of their name, image or likeness to outside bidders. The law will go into effect in 2023.

This is a stark contrast to the current model that the NCAA has in place. Student-athletes are not permitted to profit whatsoever off their image or likeness and face punishment if they do so.

The NCAA pushed back hard against the signing of the bill. Mark Emmert, along with the NCAA board of governors, sent letters to Newsom’s office urging him to not sign the bill. Emmert and the board called the bill an “existential threat to the college sports model”.

The bill passed unanimously in both chambers in California. The House passed the bill 73-0 while the Senate passed the bill 39-0.

Domino Effect

Other states have followed suite in proposing similar bills. A New York senator proposed a bill last week that would mirror the California bill. However, there is one major difference between the two. The New York bill would actually force colleges to pay athletes directly. An amendment in the bill would require schools to disperse 15 percent of their annual revenue off athletics to the student-athletes.

South Carolina followed that up by proposing a bill of its own. The South Carolina proposal would allow athletes to benefit from their name and likeness and it would also pay a $5,000 stipend to athletes of football and basketball due to the amount of revenue they generate.

Most recently, Florida proposed a bill with similar measures as the California bill. If passed, the Florida bill would be implemented in 2020.

Polarizing Issue

The issue has divided current and former athletes as well as coaches.

When California originally passed the bill in the Senate, former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow was staunchly against the measures listed in the bill.

However, this view isn’t shared by many other athletes. Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James is a strong endorser of the Fair Pay to Play Act and helped gain traction for the bill.

Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green was even more direct of his criticism of the NCAA.

Most notably though, the NCAA is against the signing of the bill and will be forced to adapt to the evolving landscape of college athletics.

With more and more states proposing bills that contradict current NCAA rule, the NCAA will be forced to act.

States like California and Florida house massive athletic powers like Stanford, Florida, USC, Florida State and UCLA. If the NCAA wants to continue to generate revenue from two of the largest and most prosperous states, they’ll need to make amendments to their current, archaic rules.

However, the NCAA could also hold true to its current standard. If so, a stand-off could be created between the NCAA and states across the nation.

About Michael Knauff

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