California’s Fair Pay to Play Act Initiates Nationwide Movement to Allow College Athletes to Earn Income

On September 30, Governor Newsom signed into law SB 206, also known as the Fair Pay to Play Act, after the legislation had been passed unanimously by the California State Senate and State Assembly. The Fair Pay to Play Act allows college athletes to hire agents and receive paid endorsements. This is a step forward for these athletes who have been denied compensation beyond a college degree for playing their respective sports.

College sports have expanded in recent years to become a nearly $14 billion industry and the only people that are not seeing returns are the athletes themselves. This new piece of legislation received strong pushback from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and other college sports organizations like the Pac-12.

The NCAA even called the legislation unconstitutional. This new law has the potential to drastically change the current status quo that the NCAA and colleges around the country have benefitted from.

While the legislation was still being considered, the NCAA arranged a committee to discuss changes they could make that would alleviate the problem. The NCAA has been under increasing pressure nationwide as 10 more states are penning similar legislation to allow college athletes recompense for their efforts.

The NFL Player’s Association has also backed the National College Player’s Association to assist college athletes in licensing and merchandising deals. As the walls closed in the NCAA was left with little choice and the board voted unanimously to overturn the current policy and allow athletes to monetize their own name and image. On October 29, the NCAA agreed to allow college athletes to be paid for endorsements.

Other legislation is being inspired by California’s step forward with some going even further. New York, for example, is considering a bill that would set aside 15 percent of the revenue from college sports for the players. New Jersey has a more confining view on the matter and their potential bill would ban players from taking endorsements that promote alcohol, gambling, tobacco, etc.

However, even with this positive change, the problem has not yet been solved. Recently, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo was penalized by the NCAA because they gave their athletes extra money for the purpose of purchasing textbooks.

The matter of fair pay for college athletes is an evolving issue, but what is important is that steps are being taken to provide these athletes with adequate compensation for their work. For years, the NCAA and colleges have been stealing from these players by profiting from their work without providing sufficient remuneration.

Most college athletes will not go on to professional sports. They spend their college years giving their all to these sports and to their colleges at the cost of their education and personal health—and all they receive in return is a college degree that they could have obtained regardless of their collegiate sports career.

These colleges make an enormous amount of money off of these players and it is only fair that they are able to profit from their own image and likeness. If successfully implemented, this legislation will change the game for these college athletes.