Today, the State of California’s Governor, Gavin Newsom, signed into law the Fair Pay to Play Act which will allow California college athletes to legally begin earning money by means of selling the rights to their name, image or likeness to outside bidders without facing penalties from their respective school.
The legislation will certainly change the landscape of the current NCAA and collegiate university business models when the law goes into effect in January 2023. Athletes in California will be allowed to hire agents and seek out endorsement deals. Endorsement compensation will be legal and permitted at any time, except when the player’s and universities’ brands conflict while engaged in team-competition, where the team or school’s brand will take precedent as the only allowable brand to be represented during competitive activities.
The NCAA feels the law raises concerns regarding the distinction between amateur and professional athletics, as well as a fear that the goal of providing a level playing field will not be possible for 1,100 affiliated schools and nearly a half-million student athletes nationwide.
Currently, other states are working to pass similar laws. Also, legislation regarding the matter has been proposed on a federal level, which if passed would require the NCAA to change from it’s status as a “tax-exempt” organization, in the event the orginization continues punishing student-athletes for financially benefiting from their name, brand or likeness.
NCAA rules currently prohibit student-athletes from earning compensation related to their status as a college athlete from outside sources. As of now, the NCAA maintains they intend to continue enforcing the rule, which would make players and teams ineligible for competition. The organization also says they are currently engaged in modernizing their rules and policies in accordance with 21st century legislation.
After decades of debate on whether or not student-athletes should receive compensation for their participation in collegiate competition, which has grown into a billion-dollar industry, athletes will finally be able to monetize themselves as a brand. However, universities and colleges will NOT be compensating these athletes for their efforts.
The off-field victory by legislators provides a big win for student athletes whose efforts are being taken advantage of. Yes, these young people are receiving free education for their efforts. However, the equity they hold in this billion-dollar industry is miniscule. The NCAA wants to provide a level playing field for all athletes, yet doesn’t want to level the playing field regarding monetary compensation for their “employees”.
However, this is a losing situation for everyone involved. Although I believe the change is necessary in terms of fairness to the student athletes, the legislation will open up the flood-gates and create a world of problems for those same athletes, their families and respective schools. College sports are unique in the fact they are the pinnacle of amateur athletics and only a breath away from professionalism. That uniqueness will begin to dissipate as athletes will settle for endorsement compensation, while also losing their hunger to reach the upper-echelon of competitive sports. Basically, it’s official that the NCAA is now the “minor league” of professional sports…
Header Photo Credit: The Unafraid Show