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California Gov. Gavin Newsom Signs Law Allowing College Athletes To Openly Earn Money

Gavin Newsom

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the Fair Play to Pay Act, which allows student athletes to hire agents and sign endorsement deals.


Today California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the Fair Play to Pay Act, which allows student athletes to hire agents and sign endorsement deals. This law paves the way for student athletes to earn money explicitly rather than through tuition and other perks from their usually publicly funded universities.

“Colleges reap billions from student athletes but block them from earning a single dollar. That’s a bankrupt model,” Newsom tweeted after signing the bill into law.

NBC reported that the California Senate passed the legislation 39-0. After it passed the state Senate, LeBron James endorsed the bill.

The NCAA’s governing body expressed its concern for the law prior to Newsom’s signature.

As a membership organization, the NCAA agrees changes are needed to continue to support student-athletes, but improvement needs to happen on a national level through the NCAA’s rules-making process. Unfortunately, this new law already is creating confusion for current and future student-athletes, coaches, administrators and campuses, and not just in California.

We will consider next steps in California while our members move forward with ongoing efforts to make adjustments to NCAA name, image and likeness rules that are both realistic in modern society and tied to higher education.

As more states consider their own specific legislation related to this topic, it is clear that a patchwork of different laws from different states will make unattainable the goal of providing a fair and level playing field for 1,100 campuses and nearly half a million student-athletes nationwide.

Democrats like Newsom preach social equality, yet this bill will likely reduce opportunities for female athletes and athletes in sports with a smaller viewership. It will be interesting to see how they square that circle.

In the NCAA’s current model, student athletes are not allowed to make money via endorsements. The money the NCAA collects is distributed in dozens of ways. A large portion goes directly to scholarships and successful Division I programs for both sexes. The current model pushes programs to compete against each other for more money from the NCAA and to gain national attention for winning national championships.

The better the team and the higher its viewership, the more money they get from the NCAA. Allowing student athletes to sign endorsements and make even more money will only increase the disparity between men’s football and basketball and all other sports.

The NCAA is membership based. Therefore, if California schools like Stanford, the University of California at Los Angeles, or the University of California at Berkley, want to opt out of the NCAA they can.

This law could lead to a multitude of different outcomes and will set the stage for future legislation and pressures. Some have predicted it could eventually create a competitor organization to the NCAA. But the ball is now in the NCAA’s court.