Huge news in the world of college sports: California governor Gavin Newsom just signed the Fair Pay to Play Act into law, which will allow athletes who attend college in the state to earn money off their names, images, and likenesses. Beginning in 2023, players will be able to hire agents, sign endorsement deals, and accept paid youth coaching positions. The law also bans schools from kicking athletes off the team if they get paid.
The move sets up a showdown with the NCAA. Last week, NCAA president Mark Emmert told a group of Division I athletic directors that granting players likeness rights is an ‘existential threat’ to college sports and earlier this month, the NCAA informed Governor Newsom that if the law is adopted, the organization could declare all student athletes at the 58 NCAA schools in the state ineligible.
Governor Newsom signed the bill on an episode of “The Shop,” LeBron James’ HBO series:
I’m so incredibly proud to share this moment with all of you. @gavinnewsom came to The Shop to do something that will change the lives for countless athletes who deserve it! @uninterrupted hosted the formal signing for SB 206 allowing college athletes to responsibly get paid. pic.twitter.com/NZQGg6PY9d
— LeBron James (@KingJames) September 30, 2019
The law will take effect on January 1, 2023. Similar bills are being considered in South Carolina, New York, and Illinois.
Your move, NCAA.
UPDATE: The NCAA just released this statement on the bill’s passing.
As a membership organization, the NCAA agrees changes are needed to continue to support student-athletes, but improvement needs to happen on a national level through the NCAA’s rules-making process. Unfortunately, this new law already is creating confusion for current and future student-athletes, coaches, administrators and campuses, and not just in California.
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.
As more states consider their own specific legislation related to this topic, it is clear that a patchwork of different laws from different states will make unattainable the goal of providing a fair and level playing field for 1,100 campuses and nearly half a million student-athletes nationwide.