NCAA Sports

California Passes ‘Fair Pay to Play’ Act

The State of California passed a landmark bill called the ‘Fair Pay to Play’ Act.  The bill states that colleges cannot punish athletes for making money off their name, image, and likeness.  Although the bill won’t go into effect until January of 2023, it’s a major step in the right direction.

California Governor Gavin Newsom signed the bill into law this morning.  However; the NCAA doesn’t seem happy about it, as they would like to see this on a national level.  So hopefully within the next four years, the NCAA and other states can figure out a solution.

The full bill can be found here.

This bill does have a restriction that may hinder SOME student athletes.  Athletes cannot sign endorsement deals that conflict with their schools sponsors.  (Example: signing with Pepsi if your school has a contract with Coca-Cola).  The bigger issue with this restriction is probably more towards clothing and equipment.  So if Nike sponsors your school, athletes cannot sign contracts with Under Armour, Adidas, Puma, etc.

Fair Pay to Play Act Backlash

Though many applaud this move, many are against it.  The Pac 12 released a statement saying:

“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. This legislation will lead to the professionalization of college sports and many unintended consequences related to this professionalism, imposes a state law that conflicts with national rules, will blur the lines for how California universities recruit student-athletes and compete nationally, and will likely reduce resources and opportunities for student-athletes in Olympic sports and have a negative disparate impact on female student-athletes.”

“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. We will work with our universities to determine next steps and ensure continuing support for our student-athletes.”


And there is one teeny, tiny, incredibly small detail we we’re missing.  If this law isn’t passed nationally, every school within California cannot participate in NCAA events.  This would put California schools at a huge DISADVANTAGE.  Many fear, including San Diego State AD John David Wicker, that schools won’t want to play California teams.  This would put schools in a tough bind.  Either follow state laws or NCAA rules.  But at that point, that’s not possible.  The bill passed; so if a school does tell an athlete they can’t make money off of their name, its too late.

So What’s Next?

The NCAA and the remaining 49 states have four years to figure out what to do.  It wouldn’t be all that shocking if nearly every state passed a bill like this.  Especially with the emergence of sports gambling now.  If the other 49 states don’t pass a similar bill, there will be a slew of lawsuits in California.

It’s great that California is taking a lead on this; but hopefully the remaining 49 jump on board.  If not, this could get very ugly, very quick.


Brian Berard (@RockyBerard)

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