The California state assembly just passed a monumental bill regarding amateurism in NCAA athletics. The Fair Pay to Play Act allows college athletes in California to be paid for the use of their name, image, and likeness. The legislation passed the California state assembly 72–0 on September 9th and will now head to Democratic Governor Gavin Newsome’s office to sign into law.
It’s hard to overstate the importance of this decision when it comes to the landscape of collegiate athletics. If signed into law, all hell could break loose for California state schools and a national movement could be sparked.
Unsurprisingly to most this bill is opposed by the NCAA as well as Division I schools in California such as the University of Southern California and Stanford University. The NCAA has threatened to bar California schools from competing in NCAA playoffs if this bill goes into effect, citing for its opposition is that California schools would have an unfair advantage in recruiting.
I tell you what’s an unfair advantage; the NCAA having full jurisdiction to profit from athletes’ name and likeness and providing no compensation. The audacity of an organization telling people they don’t have the right to receive endorsements under their own name because they’re “student-athletes” is blatant exploitation.
The term “student-athlete” was literally invented to suppress college athlete’s rights, invented in 1964 by Walter Byers, the first executive director of the NCAA. Byers coined the term to prevent universities from paying workers compensation to their athletes.
Numerous high profile college athletes have been reprimanded for attempting to profit off their likeness. In 2014, the former University of Georgia running back Todd Gurley was suspended by the NCAA for four games for signing autographs and making around $3,000. Gurley was ordered to return part of the money and complete 40 hours of community service.
High-level Division I athletes barely have any free time to balance their work and sport, leaving essentially no time to dedicate to paid work. So Gurley signs some autographs to presumably help out his family and support himself and he has to sit out? Man, the NCAA really sucks.
Back to the California bill. I’ve always thought to allow players to profit off their name and likeness is one of the easiest steps the NCAA can do to give their athletes more freedom. I think players deserve to be paid due to the revenue being produced by the NCAA but when you think about how you’re going to pay players at smaller schools it becomes difficult.
But when you allow players to profit off their name and likeness, all you’re doing is giving them permission to receive endorsement deals which any college player could do if they have the means to do so. Denying this only stunts the financial well-being of said athletes.
I expect Governor Newsome to sign this piece of legislation within the next 30 days and if he does, all hell could break loose. There will be a tremendous amount of lobbying from the NCAA and schools in California,but considering this bill passed 72-0, I see no reason why Newsome wouldn’t sign it.
Stay tuned; this is just the beginning.