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Governor Gavin Newsom signed the CA-SB206 bill into law on LeBron James' The Shop. This will allow college athletes to hire agents and sign endorsement deals. The law makes California the first state to permit athletes to make money off their likeness, name, and image. The act also prohibits schools from punishing athletes who choose to monetize their skills. The law, which goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2023, doesn't apply to community colleges and restricts players from signing endorsement deals that conflict with their university's partnerships.
“This is the beginning of a national movement—one that transcends geographic and partisan lines,” Newsom said. “Collegiate student athletes put everything on the line—their physical health, future career prospects and years of their lives to compete. Colleges reap billions from these student athletes’ sacrifices and success but, in the same breath, block them from earning a single dollar. That’s a bankrupt model—one that puts institutions ahead of the students they are supposed to serve. It needs to be disrupted.”
Bill CA-SB206—known as the Fair Pay to Play Act—has been embroiled in controversy since it was first introduced. The NCAA asked Newsom to veto the bill, claiming it would "erase the critical distinction between college and professional athletes." Newsom believes that athletes should have the same luxuries as college students who don't play sports.
"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," Newsom told the New York Times. "The only group that can’t are athletes. Why is that?"
Although most of the state's politicians support Newsom and bill CA-SB206, California is bracing itself for backlash from the NCAA. The NCAA has gone as far as to call the law "unconstitutional" and thinks payment would turn athletes into employees of the university rather than students. After the signing, the NCAA released a statement arguing that changes to support student-athletes must be made on a national level to avoid confusion.
"We will consider next steps in California while our members move forward with ongoing efforts to make adjustments to NCAA name, image and likeness rules that are both realistic in modern society and tied to higher education," the statement says.
Superstar athletes like LeBron James have also supported the act. His NCAA eligibility came into question when he allegedly received free jerseys from a local clothing store as a senior in high school.
"This is a game changer for student athletes and for equity in sports," James said during an episode of HBO's The Shop. "Athletes at every level deserve to be empowered and to be fairly compensated for their work, especially in a system where so many are profiting off of their talents. Part of the reason I went to the NBA was to get my mom out of the situation she was in. I couldn’t have done that in college with the current rules in place. This bill will help student athletes who are in a similar situation."