California passes bill for college players to earn money on their names and likeness

California passes bill for college players to earn money on their names and likeness
October 10
02:00 2019

Last year I wrote a column about how unfair it was that the NCAA makes billions of dollars off of collegiate athletes and the players earn nothing. I thought it would take a few years, but California is the first state to take a step in the right direction with the Fair Pay to Play Act.

The California State Assembly passed bill SB206 by a 72-0 margin (seven not voting) that would open the door for NCAA student-athletes to earn money from their names, images and likeness more easily. The bill also allows student-athletes to hire agents as well.

The new law, which is supposed to take effect in 2023, puts the stranglehold the NCAA has on student athletes in jeopardy. In the bill, it would allow student-athletes in California only to promote products and companies. This law will force the powers that be in the NCAA to eventually change the unfair rules, or allow a free-for-all for student-athletes to make money on their names.

In an interview with The New York Times, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said the law is “a big move to expose the farce and to challenge a system that is outsized in its capacity to push back.”

“Every single student in the university can market their name, image and likeness; they can go and get a YouTube channel, and they can monetize that,” Newsome said. “The only group that can’t are athletes. Why is that?”
Of course, the NCAA was not happy with this ruling, saying it was “unconstitutional.”  What’s unconstitutional is the way the NCAA has used these student-athletes the way they have for the last several decades.

The NCAA and the Pac-12 conference that have four schools in the state of California, lobbied against the measure, along with several universities, including California, Stanford, and Southern California. The NCAA could declare those schools ineligible to compete in the premiere events such as the College Football Playoff and the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments.

It’s funny that when the NCAA heard of this proposed legislation in February of this year, they decided to convene a committee to consider changes to their existing system. The results of that committee are to be announced in October. Leary said that the NCAA would do enough, but California officials went ahead with their legislation, leaving the door open for changes once the NCAA’s recommendations have been announced. 

 My question is, why did it take proposed legislation from California for the NCAA to realize their system is one-sided and not fair to the players? I am not for totally opening Pandora’s box, so to speak, but there are legitimate ways of allowing student-athletes to monetize their names.

“People said, ‘You know what, we’ve got to force their hands,’” said Newsome. “They’re not going to do the right thing on their own. They only do the right thing when they’re sued, or they’re forced to do the right thing.”

I am very intrigued to see what the NCAA committee came up with, after months of discussions among themselves. I am sure it won’t be to the extent that the state of California took it, but I am still curious to find out, nonetheless.

My hope is more states will follow the lead of California in the near future. All athletes should have the opportunity to monetize their own image to support themselves during their college years, especially since the universities they attend make millions off them at the same time.

I know some people will argue that the student-athletes are compensated by receiving scholarships to attend college, but I don’t feel that is enough. The NCAA will still make their money, while student-athletes can earn what they are worth, to some degree. We just have to do right by these young men and women who not only have to deal with the rigors of college curriculum, but also playing the sport they love simultaneously.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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