California college athlete bill allowing endorsements goes to governor

California could become the first state in the nation to allow college athletes to benefit financially from their endeavors. The state legislature has now sent the bill to Governor Gavin Newsom’s desk for signature into law.

That prospect is drawing a response from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), which worries California would then be the first state to allow them to get paid for the use of their name, image, or likeness.

“If you’re an average athlete it’s not going to mean much. But if you’re a superstar athlete, it’s going to mean a whole lot,” said Kevin Lynch, a retired sportswriter and now professor in the Department of Justice Studies at San Jose State University.

There is potentially a whole lot of money for college athletes who become household names, and subsequently brand names. California’s assembly recently amended and passed Senate Bill 206, also known as the Fair Pay to Play Act. Under it, 24,000 college athletes from 54 schools would no longer be barred from earning money from the use of their names, images, or likeness. The Senate is set to pass the amended version in the coming days, and then to Gov. Gavin Newsom to become law.

Star pro athletes tweeted their support for the measure, with LeBron James saying, “…Because of this bill, you can work with everyone to create a national policy that’s fair to the athletes.”

And Golden State Warriors power forward Draymond Green added, “…Finally, we are making some progress and getting this thing right. Kids going to sleep hungry, can’t afford ANYTHING yet these Universities are profiting off those same kids. SIGN IT!!”

“A lot of athletes are men and women of color. Lot of them come from poor backgrounds. A lot of them aren’t gonna make the NFL. Maybe two percent do. So this is a way for them to make money while they’re in college,” said Lynch.
The NCAA Board of Governors sees a slippery slope starting in the Golden State. Members wrote Gov. Newsom Wednesday saying in part S-B 206 would, “…Erase the critical distinction between college and professional athletics.” And that it, “…Gives those (schools in California) an unfair recruiting advantage, (resulting in them) being unable to compete in NCAA competitions.”

The threat hits home in the land of the Rose Bowl, and collegiate powers such as Stanford, Cal, USC, and UCLA.

“That’ll never happen you have huge schools that draw in an incredible amount of dollars…There’s no way they’re going to exclude them because they make so much money,” said Lynch.

Professor Lynch, a former sportswriter and analyst, says the NCAA worries as California goes, so goes the nation. 

Late Wednesday afternoon, Stanford University issued a statement that says the university is against AB 206 because, “We believe there needs to be a rational and consistent national framework for addressing these issues (of student-athlete compensation).”

If the Senate passes the bill, the governor has 30 days to sign it into law.