NORTH HOLLYWOOD, CA- NCAA President Mark Emmert said in a letter last week that college athletes from universities in California could be barred from competing for NCAA Championships, if a bill that allows athletes to be compensated passes.
SB 206, also known as the Fair Pay to Play Act, was introduced by two California state senators earlier this year. The bill, which was approved by the State Senate last month, would allow athletes to earn money using their name, images, and likenesses beginning in January of 2023.
However, the bill would not allow public or private universities to pay their student-athletes directly.
Last week, president Emmert sent a letter to two State Assembly committees where he recognized the efforts that have been made to develop the bill. However, he also expressed his belief that it would have a “negative impact,” on the athletes the bill seeks to help.
“We recognize all of the efforts that have been undertaken to develop this bill in the context of complex issues related to the current collegiate model that have been the subject of litigation and much national debate,” said Emmert in his letter to the chairs of two State Assembly committees. “Nonetheless, 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. As a result, it likely would have a negative impact on the exact student-athletes it intends to assist.”
Since the state senate already passed SB 206, the bill would need to be approved by the Assembly`s Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism, and Internet Media Committee on Tuesday, when they are scheduled to meet.
If the bill is approved by the committee, it would then need to be approved by July 11 by the Higher Education Committee in order for it to remain alive for the rest of the year.
President Emmert asked the committee to, “postpone the consideration of the bill, while the NCAA reviews its rules concerning athletes` ability to make money from their names, images and likenesses,” according to USA TODAY`s Steve Berkowitz.
As it currently stands, NCAA college athletes are not allowed to receive any direct payments for their athletic talents. This includes endorsement deals, selling their autographs, and direct payments by recruiters attempting to lure an athlete towards a particular school.
California Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) said her bill would allow athletes to “earn money from their talent… while retaining amateur status,” according to the Los Angeles Times.
In 2018, the NCAA nearly made $1.1 billion in annual revenue during the its 2017 fiscal year, which marked the first time in history that the association surpassed the $1 billion mark.
State senator Steven Bradford (D-Gardena) said the bill is not only a “civil rights issue,” but also a “fairness issue.”
“These men and women put butts in seats of arenas and stadiums all across the country and the universities make millions of dollars selling their jerseys and other paraphernalia…but these athletes benefit not one dime,” said senator Bradford. “This is a civil rights issue. This is a fairness issue.”
If the bill proceeds and goes into effect in 2023, the ban on California universities could potentially affect 23 NCAA Division 1 schools, which include four from the Pac-12 Conference.
By, Luis Zuniga
Contributions by, the Los Angeles Times, Bleacher Report, USA Today, CNN, Deadspin, and Sports Illustrated
Photo, Darron Cummings/Associated Press