California state legislature passed a bill (Fair Pay to Play Act) on Wednesday, September 11, 2019, which would permit college athletes to get paid for endorsement deals and the NCAA isn’t pleased. The bill is now in the hands of Governor, Gavin Newsom along with a response letter from the NCAA Board of Governors.
From the NCAA’s point of view, such a law blurs the lines between college and pro sports while removing the element of fairness currently among college sports culture. Although the Association is against California Senate Bill 206, professional athletes including LeBron James have shown support for the pending bill.
James tweeted:“Everyone is California- call your politicians and tell them to support SB 206! This law is a GAME CHANGER. College athletes can responsibly get paid for what they do and the billions they create.”
The letter states:
“California Senate Bill 206 would upend that balance. 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.”
The key here is the unfair recruiting advantage. The correspondence continues:
“It isn’t possible to resolve the challenges of today’s college sports environment in this way — by one state taking unilateral action. With more than 1,100 schools and nearly 500,000 student-athletes across the nation, the rules and policies of college sports must be established through the Association’s collaborative governance system. A national model of collegiate sport requires mutually agreed upon rules.
“We urge the state of California to reconsider this harmful and, we believe, unconstitutional bill and hope the state will be a constructive partner in our efforts to develop a fair name, image and likeness approach for all 50 states.”
Lawmakers argue the benefit of the bill pointing out the lack of sense the current rules make by disallowing college athletes to secure endorsements. They aren’t able to generate earnings via athletic wear much less major branding deals using their images in products like games etc.
Long Beach State athletic director, Andy Fee, expressed concerns for “many potential and unintended consequences”should the governor pass the bill. He said, “I fear the distinct possibility of a scenario where California schools could be expelled for willful breaking of NCAA rules. Should California schools be expelled, the very student-athletes the bill is intended to assist would be adversely affected.”
Gov. Newsom has 30 days from the 11thto make a final decision, so for now, we’ll just have to wait for the ultimate outcome. Read the NCAA’s letter in its entirety here.