It's official. California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law Senate Bill 206, the "College athletics: student athlete compensation and representation" act, also known as the "Fair Pay to Play Act." LeBron James hosted the signing on his HBO show, The Shop: Uninterrupted.
As I mentioned in my summer write up while Senate Bill 206 was making its way through California legislature, the Bill prohibits public and private colleges and universities in California from revoking scholarships or eligibility from student-athletes who monetize their name, image, and likeness. While there were many proponents of Senate Bill 206, it also faced its fair share of criticism from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), which threatened to ban California programs from participating in postseason competition if the Bill was passed. In addition, several universities, both within and outside of the golden state, voiced their disapproval as well. However, the California legislature pressed onward, while making some amendments to the Bill along the way. One of the most notable amendments is that the Bill prevents student-athletes from signing endorsement deals which conflict with their team's sponsors.
It is important to remember that Senate Bill 206 will not go into effect until January 1, 2023, which gives the NCAA time to revise its own rules for all student-athletes. California State Senator Nancy Skinner, who first introduced Senate Bill 206 back in February 2019, said that lawmakers from several states have contacted her office in recent months to ask her about the Bill.
Other jurisdictions are following suit. For example, New York Senate Bill S6722A looks to take things a step further. It not only allows student-athletes to sell the rights to their own name, image, and likeness, it also requires college athletic departments to give a 15% share of annual revenue to student-athletes, with the revenue being divided equally among all student-athletes who compete for a particular school. This would make New York the first state to require colleges to pay student-athletes directly.
Two lawmakers in South Carolina are looking to introduce a bill which would allow the state's biggest colleges to give $5,000 per year stipends to athletes in profitable sports such as football and basketball, in addition to allowing student-athletes to earn income from their own image, name, and likeness.
There's also H.R. 1804 Student-Athlete Equity Act in Congress, which could put pressure on the NCAA from the federal level.
As we wait to see how the NCAA reacts to California's new law (which issued this statement today in response to the passage of Senate Bill 206), it is important to remember just how ground-breaking this is for the world of college sports. Senator Skinner noted that the law creates many opportunities for student-athletes, both for the star players and less prominent student-athletes, such the ability to enter into deals for apparel and commercial endorsements, to do autograph signings, and to allow student-athletes to advertise their connection to their university team while teaching lessons to young athletes.
"The NCAA has repeatedly lost antitrust cases in courts throughout the nation. As a result, threats are their primary weapon." - California State Senator Nancy Skinner, who first introduced Senate Bill 206 in February 2019.