Governor Gavin Newsom passed Senate Bill 206, better known as the Fair Pay to Play Act allowing California student-athletes rights to earn money based on name, likeness, and image. The bill was proposed by California State Senator Steven Bradford (D-Gardena) and California State Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley).
The issue of paying college athletes has been heavily debated for years on end. It’s reported in 2017, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) made $1.1 billion in revenue, none of which went to players. Senator Bradford stood behind players and their education, authoring the bill along with Senator Skinner to best benefit the students.
“We have over 40 years of African American athletes and college athletes being exploited for their talent and their labor. Many people say you get a scholarship, but as we all know, in order to cover college it’s more than room and board, tuition and textbooks,” Senator Bradford shared. “This allows athletes to monetize their image, their name and their likeness, so they can benefit similar to the NCAA and the university in which they make millions, if not billions of dollars.”
“You own your name, you own your likeness, you own your image and just because you’re a scholarship athlete shouldn’t take that away from you,” he explains.
Under SB 206 or the Fair Pay to Play Act, students will earn money from endorsements and sponsorships with no harm to losing scholarship eligibility, further protecting students and their rights to study and play college sports.
“College coaches are now some of the highest-paid employees in the country because of the talented young women and men who play for them, who work hard as both athletes and students,” Senator Bradford said in a statement, continuing, “SB 206 addresses this civil rights issue of today, finally delivering fairness and equity.”
“We see the majority of athletes on the top producing university and sports are African American men and women that generate millions of dollars of revenue for these universities and the NCAA.”
Senator Bradford considers this matter to be personal as majority athletes are Black; however, population and graduation rates of Black students happen to be the lowest. He details more than 50 percent of all football and basketball teams are made of Black men, while only representing three percent of the undergraduate population.
“This will incentivize these young men and women to stay in school longer if they are able to monetize their name, likeness, and image and not be enticed to leave school early for a professional opportunity.”
“This bill empowers athletes to stay in college, focus on their education, and will lead to higher graduation rates,” Senator Bradford expressed in his statement. “No one who cares about students, especially those from working and low-income families, can oppose this policy.”
Governor Newsom signed the bill on September 27, 2019, during an episode of NBA star Lebron James’ HBO hit show, “The Shop.” James has supported the bill since the very beginning and spoke from the perspective of an underprivileged athlete, who without natural talent, would not have benefited financially from attending a four-year university. However, his likeness, image, and skill would have profited any institution thousands in revenue.
The Fair Pay to Play Act will take effect on January 1, 2023. Senator Bradford says in the meantime they will work hard to ensure student-athletes receive all they deserve and are protected.
“We have three years to work out all the kinks and concerns anybody might have about implementing this piece of legislation,” he says, “it will be law of the land.”
Details of the act prove to protect students by barring colleges and universities penalizing athletes for monetization, prohibiting the NCAA from banning California colleges from sports if athletes chose to participate. The bill will also protect the schools by recognizing the right of colleges to generate revenue for athletic programs by forbidding student-athletes from deals that undermine their school’s existing endorsement contracts.
Both Senator Bradford and Senator Skinner, along with the support of professional athletes and more, are extremely excited for the future of the Fair Pay to Play Act.
Senator Skinner said in a statement, “it simply opens the door for athletes to earn money just like any other student, whether it’s monetizing YouTube videos, teaching swim lessons, or accepting sponsorships.”
With backing from powerful athletes and politicians, Senator Skinner and Senator Bradford stand proud behind their legislation. The two have intentions of bettering the lives of student-athletes, while creating a model for other states to follow for years on end.
Senator Bradford declared, “It’s only right and long overdue.”