California Passes Bill Allowing College Athletes to Earn Money


Photo Illustration by Ben Bartlett

Ben Bartlett, Sports Editor

California governor, Gavin Newsom recently signed the Fair Pay to Play Act into law, allowing college athletes to earn money from endorsement deals and their likeness.

The bill prohibits the NCAA from disqualifying a school or player for earning compensation from their name, image, or likeness. Currently, the NCAA does not allow athletes to earn money from jerseys, endorsements, autographs, or anything else that would make them “professional” and not amateur players. They also receive no salary, despite generating more than one billion dollars in revenue every year.

Washington, Maryland, and New York have introduced similar legislation, and other states have indicated that they will join them in the near future. There is also a similar bill that has been introduced in the House of Representatives. The bill passed both the California State Senate and Assembly unanimously with bipartisan support. While it won’t take effect until 2023, it is already generating major discussions in the sport and legal world. 

“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.

The NCAA had recommended Newsom to not sign the bill, calling it unconstitutional. 

“We urge the state of California to reconsider this harmful and, we believe, unconstitutional bill and hope the state will be a constructive partner in our efforts to develop a fair name, image, and likeness approach for all 50 states,” wrote the NCAA in a letter to Newsom. 

I think it’s a great idea. I think that athletes have already put so much time and effort into their sport, so for them to get back what they deserve and have worked hard for, I think it just really helps them”

— Delaney Fuller

However, there is some legal precedent on this issue. In 2013, the NCAA and EA Sports were forced to stop producing their football game that used college players’ likenesses after a lawsuit. The players had received no compensation for the game because of NCAA rules.

“Numerous legal scholars assert that [the Fair Pay to Play Act] is constitutional and that an NCAA ban of California colleges from championship competition is a clear violation of federal anti-trust law,” said Nancy Skinner, state senator and author of the bill, in a statement to USA Today. 

Many professional athletes have also shared their opinions on the bill. The bill was officially signed by Newsom on Lebron James’ HBO show, “The Shop.” Richard Sherman, a former Stanford defensive back and current NFL player, came out in strong support of the bill.

“I hope it destroys the NCAA, in general, because I think [the NCAA] is corrupt, and I think it’s a bunch of people taking advantage of kids and doing it under a mask of fair play. It’s either going to cripple the NCAA in a way that they start to bend and make it more fair and more of a symbiotic relationship between players and the NCAA, or it’s going to destroy them and will start a whole new way of college athletics in general,” Sherman said.

Delaney Fuller, an SJHHS volleyball player who has committed to play at Angelo State University, fully supports the bill based on her own experiences.

“I think it’s a great idea. I think that athletes have already put so much time and effort into their sport, so for them to get back what they deserve and have worked hard for, I think it just really helps them in the near future,” Fuller said.

Former Heisman Trophy winner and NFL quarterback, Tim Tebow came out strongly against the bill. 

“I know we live in a selfish culture where it’s all about us, but we’re just adding and piling onto that where it changes what’s special about college football. We turn it into the NFL, where who has the most money — that’s where you go,” Tebow said.

This is the concern of many who oppose the bill. If schools can offer endorsements for their players, it could give a recruiting advantage to bigger market schools. Furthermore, if no other states pass similar bills, it could give that advantage to California schools.

Tyler Wegis, a senior defensive lineman for SJHHS who has received many offers in recent weeks, disagreed with that concern. 

“I don’t think the bill will affect my choice of which college I want to go to,” said Wegis. 

The NCAA has threatened to prohibit California schools from NCAA events if the law takes effect. It is unlikely it will ever get to that point though, as neither side would want to see that happen. An NCAA panel that was appointed in May to study this issue is set to make a final report at a board meeting on October 28th. Whatever the end result of this bill, it is sure to change college sports forever.