The California State Assembly has approved SB 206, a bill that will allow college athletes to be paid for the use of their names, images, and likenesses.
According to the Los Angeles Times, lawmakers unanimously passed the legislation—also known as the Fair Pay to Play Act—on Wednesday, despite opposition from the NCAA. The organization's Board of Governors argued that such a law would give California colleges and universities an "unfair advantage" when it came to recruitment, as it would incentivize students to attend a school where they would be permitted to sign endorsement deals and hire agents.
' ... It would erase the critical distinction between college and professional athletics and, because it gives those schools an unfair recruiting advantage, would result in them eventually being unable to compete in NCAA competitions," the NCAA wrote in a letter to California Gov. Gavin Newsom. "These outcomes are untenable and would negatively impact more than 24,000 California student-athletes across three divisions.
"Right now, nearly half a million student-athletes in all 50 states compete under the same rules. This bill would remove that essential element of fairness and equal treatment that forms the bedrock of college sports."
Gov. Newsom now has 30 days to either sign or veto the bill. If he chooses the former, SB 206 will go into effect Jan. 1, 2023.
A number of professional athletes, including LeBron James, have endorsed the bill, which does not apply to community college athletes.
Under the current rules, students-athletes are prohibited from profiting off their athletic skills. Though the bill does not allow schools to directly pay their athletes, it will allow the students to take money from outside sources, such as endorsement deals or autograph shows. But as pointed out by Assemblyman Kevin Kiley (R-Rocklin), the SB 206 will benefit all college players—not just the star athletes.
"Forget shoe deals and video games, NCAA athletes can’t make a little money over the summer coaching youth sports, can’t promote their social media, can’t model athletic wear, can’t accept groceries or help with rent or equipment," he said. "When a line in the sand is enforced obsessively, excessively and to the point of absurdity, that’s usually a sign it doesn’t belong there."
As of press time, Gov. Newsom has not indicated if he will approve the bill.