The Sports World Begins To React To California’s Fair Pay To Play Act

Last Updated on December 2, 2020

California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law the Fair Pay to Play Act today, a bill that will prohibit colleges within the state of California from restricting their athletes’ ability to earn money from licensing their own names, images and likenesses. The bill is in direct opposition to the NCAA’s longstanding rule against such profiting. It was introduced earlier this year by Senators Nancy Skinner and Steven Bradford and drew equal amounts of criticism and praise from interested parties and commentators across the country.

Governor Newsom made a production of signing the bill by appearing on Uninterrupted, a sports programming company co-founded by LeBron James.

The governor then took to Twitter to further celebrate.

James is a supporter of the bill, having skipped playing the collegiate level himself before the NBA implemented a minimum age requirement in 2006.

“Part of the reason I went to the NBA is to get my mom out of the situation that she was in,” James said during the segment with Governor Newsom. “I couldn’t have done that if I would have stepped on a college campus.”

James continued his support for the bill later in the day at the Lakers first day of training camp.

The NCAA has adamantly opposed the bill since its introduction. In its statement today reacting to bill’s signing, the NCAA highlighted the issues presented by having laws differ from state to state.

A vocal opponent of the bill, the Pac-12 Conference, which is headquartered in TCalifornia and has four members in the state, released the following statement:

The Pac-12 is disappointed in the passage of SB 206 and believes it will have very significant negative consequences for our student-athletes and broader universities in California. This legislation will lead to the professionalization of college sports and many unintended consequences related to this professionalism, imposes a state law that conflicts with national rules, will blur the lines for how California universities recruit student-athletes and compete nationally, and will likely reduce resources and opportunities for student-athletes in Olympic sports and have a negative disparate impact on female student-athletes.  Our universities have led important student-athlete reform over the past years, but firmly believe all reforms must treat our student-athletes as students pursuing an education, and not as professional athletes. We will work with our universities to determine next steps and ensure continuing support for our student-athletes.

Texas A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher addressed the bill’s signage in his weekly press conference.

“It’s really going to change how things are done, that’s for sure,” Fisher said. “I’m anxious to see what the next step the NCAA takes, and then we’ll have to make the accountable adjustments of what goes on. But that is definitely a game changer, and I’m going to have to sit back and think through that. I’m glad it happened on an off week for the future of what’s going to happen.”

Steph Curry, who spent three years at Davidson College as a student athlete, added his thoughts at a press conference. “I love player friendly things that put people in positions to be successful and to get what they’re owed and deserve.”

The NCAA, and other parties opposed to the bill, will have some time to attempt dismantling of the bill through legal attacks, as the bill isn’t scheduled to go into effect until beginning January 1, 2023.

The piece originally appeared on Forbes on September 30, 2019

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