California Passes Fair 'Pay to Play' Act for Colleges to Pay Student-Athletes - Black Enterprise
Black Enterprise Magazine Summer 2019 Issue

The movement to start paying student college athletes is getting stronger. CNN has reported that the California State Assembly has unanimously passed legislation that will allow college students to earn money from their likeness and other intricacies they are not allowed to capitalize on.

The assembly voted 73–0 for the Fair Pay to Play Act, which would make it illegal for California universities to revoke an athlete’s scholarship or eligibility for taking money. Schools would still not pay the athletes but the players could hire agents to negotiate and find business deals for them. California’s State Senate voted Wednesday with a total of 39-0. The bill is now headed to Gov. Gavin Newsom for his signature to make it official.

State Sen. Nancy Skinner, who represents California’s 9th senate district, introduced the legislation, Senate Bill 206, which would allow student-athletes from the state’s 24 public colleges and universities to be paid indirectly via sponsorship agreements.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), however, disagrees with the law and is against its passing. In a letter to Gov. Newsom, the NCAA argued that the bill is unconstitutional and would adversely affect competitive balance throughout collegiate athletics:

“California Senate Bill 206 would upend that balance. If the bill becomes law and California’s 58 NCAA schools are compelled to allow an unrestricted name, image and likeness scheme, it would erase the critical distinction between college and professional athletics and, because it gives those schools an unfair recruiting advantage, would result in them eventually being unable to compete in NCAA competitions. These outcomes are untenable and would negatively impact more than 24,000 California student-athletes across three divisions.”

LeBron James, a staunch supporter of student-athletes being compensated for their athletic ability, commented on the issue on his Twitter account, “Everyone is California—call your politicians and tell them to support SB 206! This law is a GAME CHANGER. College athletes can responsibly get paid for what they do and the billions they create.