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The California Assembly shook the world of collegiate sports this week when they voted unanimously to allow students in the state to seek endorsement dollars using their name, image or likeness.
The bill known as the Fair Pay to Play Act would ban colleges and universities in California from enforcing the NCAA bylaw that states student-athletes cannot be paid for the use of their name, image or likeness.
On Monday, the state Assembly voted 73-0 to allow the bill to be reviewed by the state Senate. That chamber passed a similar bill in late May but they will need to approve the amended House bill before it goes to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk for approval.
If the state Senate and Gov. Newsom approves the measure, then the bill would go into effect by 2023.
California legislators and some of the state’s most high profile professional athletes came out in support of the bill before and after the Assembly vote was taken.
One of the first athletes to signal approval for the measure before the vote in the Assembly is basketball superstar LeBron James on Twitter.
James tweeted, “California can change the game. This is only right(,) waaaayy overdue.”
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.
— LeBron James (@KingJames) September 5, 2019
In a statement, state Sen. Nancy Skinner, one of the co-authors of the original Senate bill wrote the bill would eliminate “unfair rules that exploit college athletes and allow the NCAA, universities, TV networks, and corporate sponsors to pocket huge sums.”
State Sen. Skinner also believes that the NCAA rules “disproportionately harmed students from low-income families.”
And finally, the restrictions on recouping money for the use of their likeness is “particularly unfair to female athletes because, for many young women, college is the only time they could earn income since women have fewer professional sports opportunities than men,” she concluded.
California’s bill has spurred other states such as North Carolina to introduce their own equality acts for student-athletes to be compensated for the use of their image.
The NCAA has staunchly been opposed to compensation for athletes for any purpose, claiming that scholarships are the true payment for the player’s participation in collegiate sports.
After the state Senate in California passed the bill in May, NCAA President Mark Emmert fired off a tersely worded letter warning the state that by passing the bill they would be endangering the affiliation of schools to the organization.
“We recognize all of the efforts that have been undertaken to develop this bill in the context of complex issues related to the current collegiate model that has been the subject of litigation and much national debate,” Emmert wrote in the letter to the California Senate.
“Nonetheless, when contrasted with current NCAA rules, as drafted the bill threatens to alter materially the principles of intercollegiate athletics and create local differences that would make it impossible to host fair national championships,” Emmert continued.
“As a result, it likely would have a negative impact on the exact student-athletes it intends to assist.”
If the bill does go completely through California’s law creation process, the state can likely expect a series of lawsuits from the NCAA forcing higher federal courts to ultimately make the final decision on the law.
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