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Fair Pay to Play Act passed despite continued NCAA opposition

Gov. Gavin Newsom passed Senate Bill 206 on Monday morning, nine months after the original draft was proposed by Sen. Nancy Skinner. The bill, often referred to as the Fair Pay to Play Act, will allow California collegiate athletes to earn money from the use of their name, image and likeness. (Creative Commons photo by Steven Pavlov)

By Jacqueline Dzwonczyk

Sep. 30, 2019 9:37 am

This post was updated Sept. 30 at 3:48 p.m.

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 206 – also known as the Fair Pay to Play Act – on Monday morning, allowing collegiate athletes in California to profit from their name, image or likeness starting in January 2023.

“Collegiate student athletes put everything on the line – their physical health, future career prospects and years of their lives to compete,” Newsom said in a statement. “Colleges reap billions from these student athletes’ sacrifices and success but, in the same breath, block them from earning a single dollar. That’s a bankrupt model – one that puts institutions ahead of the students they are supposed to serve. It needs to be disrupted.”

The bill started with Sen. Nancy Skinner in February and passed unanimously in the California State Legislature on Sept. 10. Monday’s signing of the bill took place on Lebron James’ HBO show, “The Shop,” after James and other professional athletes had voiced support of the Fair Pay to Play Act for months.

The NCAA, however, has outwardly opposed the bill on the grounds that it would blur lines between collegiate and professional sports as well as give California universities an unfair advantage in recruiting since the other 49 states would continue operating without any such legislation.

Like the NCAA, the Pac-12 stands in opposition to SB 206, according to a statement released Monday afternoon in response to the bill’s passing.

“The Pac-12 is disappointed in the passage of SB 206 and believes it will have very significant negative consequences for our student-athletes and broader universities in California,” the statement said. “Our universities have led important student-athlete reform over the past years, but firmly believe all reforms must treat our student-athletes as students pursuing an education, and not as professional athletes.”

SB 206 does not allow athletes to be paid directly by their schools, but makes it illegal for colleges to prevent players from signing endorsements or similar deals to make money – which, the NCAA argues, would attract top athletes to universities with the Fair Pay to Play Act enacted.

[Related: California student-athletes closer to getting paid amid NCAA, UC opposition]

The initial reaction from the NCAA in June was to prohibit any schools that enact SB 206 from competing in the league. Doing so would mean banning Stanford, UCLA and USC – the three schools with the most NCAA championships – and so California representatives continued to push for the bill despite the apparent threats.

But the NCAA is expected to challenge SB 206 in court moving forward.

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Jacqueline Dzwonczyk | Sports senior staff
Dzwonczyk is currently a Sports senior staff writer. She was previously an assistant Sports editor for the women's basketball, women's soccer, beach volleyball, men's golf and women's golf beats. Dzwonczyk was previously a staff writer on the women's soccer, beach volleyball and women's tennis beats.
Dzwonczyk is currently a Sports senior staff writer. She was previously an assistant Sports editor for the women's basketball, women's soccer, beach volleyball, men's golf and women's golf beats. Dzwonczyk was previously a staff writer on the women's soccer, beach volleyball and women's tennis beats.
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