Proposed Bill Could Mean a Pay Day For College Athletes

The bill in the California State Assembly says athletes could profit off their names, likeness and images.

California could soon pass a groundbreaking new law, allowing college athletes to be compensated for use of their names, likeness and images.

The 'Fair Pay to Play Act' has moved to the state legislature's Higher Education Committee. If it is approved out of committee it will move to the Assembly for a full vote. The bill already passed the State Senate last month.

The bill, which has already drawn strong condemnation from the NCAA, would not allow schools or athletic departments to pay student athletes directly. However, athletes would be able to be compensated for merchandise sales, video game portrayals, selling memorabilia or for signing autographs.

Supporters of the bill and longtime critics of the NCAA say it is not fair that uncompensated student athletes cannot monetize their names or likeness, despite their participation in an industry that brings in tens of millions of dollars for their universities.

"As I have read through multiple pages of articles on the NCAA and its punishments and its prohibitions and how folks have lost eligibility, it's right out of the Godfather movie," assembly woman Sydney Kamlager-Dove (D-Los Angeles) told the Los Angeles Times .

State Sen. Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) co-authored the bill. She says it could be especially beneficial for female athletes, who have fewer opportunities to profit off their athletic ability in professional sports.

The NCAA says it has put together a panel to study a way to compensate athletes for their names and likeness, and that a report is expected in October. However, NCAA President Mark Emmert wrote in a letter that the proposed bill in California was misguided, claiming that:

"When contrasted with current NCAA rules, as drafted the bill threatens to alter materially the principles of intercollegiate athletics and create local differences that would make it impossible to host fair national championships."

Several athletic directors have raised concerns that if the bill becomes law, California schools could be barred from certain NCAA competitions and championships.

If the bill passes the state Assembly and is signed by Gov. Gavin Newsome (D-CA), it would take effect in 2023.

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