Senate Bill 206 is one step closer to becoming a law.
The California State Assembly’s Committee on Higher Education voted unanimously with one abstention in favor of SB 206, which would give California collegiate student-athletes the ability to profit off their own likeness, on Tuesday. SB 206 – also known as the Fair Pay to Play Act – passed 31-4 in the California State Senate on May 22 and would go into effect in January 2023 if approved.
The California legislature went on summer recess Friday and will not return until mid-August, meaning the bill will not be up for an assemblywide vote for at least another month. SB 206 would then get passed on to the governor to be signed into law.
The Committee’s 9-0 vote took place less than a month after NCAA President Mark Emmert wrote a letter to the Senate requesting the bill’s postponement. Assembly chairman Jose Medina claimed the NCAA was attempting to bully the state.
“I don’t take too fondly to threats to the state of California, regardless of where they come from,” Medina said to ESPN on Tuesday.
Emmert wrote in his letter that the bill would create interstate inequalities and confuse prospective student-athletes immediately after passing, despite the proposed deferred effective date. Emmert also threatened to bar California schools from participating in NCAA events should the bill pass.
One committee member, assemblyman Jim Patterson, abstained from voting. He said moving forward with the bill would heighten the stakes of a “game of chicken” between California and the NCAA, according to ESPN.
The NCAA is currently in the midst of its own internal study on monetizing student-athlete name, image and likeness – or NIL – rights, and is scheduled to release its initial findings in August and a final report in October. The assessment does not cover the issues of agents and scholarship protections like SB 206, and Emmert claims the bill would compromise the NCAA’s study.
On the national stage, North Carolina Rep. Mark Walker introduced the Student-Athlete Equity Act in March. His legislation would revoke the NCAA’s tax-exempt status if Emmert refuses to give student-athletes the right to their own NIL rights.
The University of California and California State University systems have both released statements in opposition to SB 206.