California to pay college athletes


Bryce Johnson

California is looking to pay college athletes.

Destiny Curtis, North Campus Staff

College athletes in California will soon be getting paychecks after taking the field. On September 30, California Governor Gavin Newsom officially signed the Fair Pay to Play Act into law, in direct opposition to current NCAA ruling regarding student athlete compensation.

Both the Governor’s signing, as well as a unanimous vote by the California State Assembly, passed the bill officially known as SB 206. The bill, which went through a lengthy vetting process, was first introduced to the California State Assembly’s Committee on Rules on February 4, 2019. California State Senator Nancy Skinner was the one to originally present the bill to the State Senate, facing opposition both from fellow legislators and various student athlete organizations, most notably the NCAA.

Compensation for student athletes at California state and public universities will be mandatory according to SB 206, which goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2023. The bill also contains several protective measures intended to prevent sports organizations from targeting students and punishing them. Under the Fair Pay to Play Act, compensation will not affect scholarship opportunities, ensuring students’ rights to financial aid despite their collegiate earnings. Professional legal representation must be allowed for intercollegiate athletes negotiating contacts or dealing with legal matters. Intercollegiate organizations are required to allow students that benefit from the law to play within their organizations, just as they would if the student were not earning compensation.

The NCAA, which currently bans players from making money off of their names or likenesses and has strict guidelines on player compensation—up to and including extremely specific circumstances, such as a player’s family member receiving money as a gift from supportive parties—has reacted negatively to Skinner’s bill and Newsom’s approval. In a published letter to Governor Newsom, the NCAA claimed that the bill would “erase the critical distinction between college and professional athletics,” giving California college teams an unfair advantage over other NCAA schools.

The letter also came with a warning that the NCAA will exclude colleges that compensate student athletes. “…Because it gives those schools an unfair recruiting advantage, [it 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 college student-athletes across three divisions.”

Many legislative assemblies, in spite the NCAA’s cold response, are following California’s lead and introducing legislation that would afford intercollegiate athletes within various states the same protections. Both Senator Marlon Kimpson and Representative Justin Bramberg have stated their intention to submit a bill similar to the Fair Pay to Play act to their state’s General Assembly.

North Carolina proposed similar legislation in March of this year, with Florida and New York legislators following suit this September. Anthony Gonzalez, who is currently serving as the U.S. Representative for Ohio’s 16th congressional district, has his eyes on national reform. On October 2, he stated his intentions to submit a bill similar to the Fair Pay to Play act to the House floor.