California passes Fair Pay to Play bill

The California State Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 206 Wednesday, which would make collegiate athletes eligible for compensation from the use of their name, image or likeness. California Gov. Gavin Newsom has 30 days to sign the bill or veto it.

Under the bill, student-athletes would also be able to hire agents while maintaining eligibility at the college level.

The California Senate has received backlash from the NCAA, which stated in a letter to Newsom prior to the bill’s passing that it would “erase the critical distinction between college and professional athletics.”

The NCAA has argued that the bill would give California schools an unfair advantage recruiting because athletes would be drawn to schools where they could potentially profit. The NCAA threatened that if SB206 is signed into law, the organization would prohibit 58 California collegiate programs from participating in NCAA competition.

This would mean that some of the NCAA’s top athletic programs — including USC, Stanford, UCLA and Cal — would be barred from competing.

After reaching out, the University gave the Daily Trojan the same statement it did when the bill was first introduced in February by the California government.

“USC opposes SB206 because the proposed California law would encourage student-athletes to violate NCAA bylaws relating to amateurism and receiving outside compensation,” the statement read.

The University also cited the warning from the NCAA as support for its decision.

“Because the proposed state law conflicts with NCAA bylaws, students would become athletically ineligible, and athletic programs and athletic departments would be put at risk,” the University wrote. “When a single student-athlete engages in any activity that violates NCAA rules, the entire team and program could be negatively impacted by NCAA sanctions.”

Myra “Miki” Turner, an assistant professor of professional practice at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, said she wants college athletes to be compensated but is worried about how the change will affect them.

“When you start to make money off your likeness and image, you can really no longer be considered an amateur athlete,” Turner said.

Turner also said that if the California schools are banned from competing in the NCAA, athletes might be incentivized to jump from high school to the pros, missing out on the social and cultural opportunities of college.

“I hope it doesn’t come to that,” Turner said. “I hope that there is some middle ground somewhere that the athletes can be compensated and still maintain their status to play in the NCAA.”

The bill, which was approved by a unanimous 72-0 vote in the state Senate, will go into effect Jan. 1, 2023 if signed.