SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed a bill known as the Fair Pay to Play Act into law, allowing college athletes to profit from their name, image and likeness in California.
The Fair Pay to Play Act allows college athletes in California to sign endorsement deals; earn compensation based on the usage of their name, image and likeness; and sign all types of licensing contracts that would allow them to earn money.
College athletes will also be able to hire an agent licensed by the state to represent them in any deals.
NBA superstar LeBron James had thrown his support behind the bill in the months leading up to its signing, calling it a “game changer.” In a clip from James’ HBO Sports show, Newsom signs the bill while speaking with the Lakers star and other athletes:
Colleges reap billions from student athletes but block them from earning a single dollar. That’s a bankrupt model.
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) September 30, 2019
“Colleges reap billions from student athletes but block them from earning a single dollar,” Newsom wrote in a Twitter post with the clip. “That’s a bankrupt model.”
James also tweeted the video, writing, “I’m so incredibly proud to share this moment with all of you.”
SB 206 was introduced by state Sens. Nancy Skinner and Steven Bradford. It will go into effect on January 1, 2023.
The debate over NCAA amateurism and the money that the NCAA and schools generate through college athletic programs has raged on for years. Current NCAA amateurism rules are put in place to distinguish college athletes from professional athletes.
For the 2017 fiscal year, the NCAA reported $1.1 billion in revenue. Considering all the money that these athletic programs generate for both the NCAA and each of the schools, it has long since been argued that students should be able to profit off the revenue that they help generate.
The NCAA operates as a nonprofit organization.
The legislation has received opposition from the NCAA and a number of prominent universities in California, as they believe it would be impossible for the schools to follow the NCAA’s amateurism rules.
“The NCAA Board of Governors has monitored SB 206 as it has moved through the California legislative process,” the NCAA said in a statement after the bill was sent to Newsom’s desk. “As we evaluate our next steps, we remain focused on providing opportunities and a level playing field for the nearly half a million student-athletes nationwide.”
In a letter to Newsom before he signed the bill, the NCAA wrote:
“If the bill becomes law and California’s 58 NCAA schools are compelled to allow an unrestricted name, image and likeness scheme, 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.
These outcomes are untenable and would negatively impact more than 24,000 California student-athletes across three divisions.”