In the more than 100 years that the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has ruled over college sports, there has been one issue that they have foolishly refused to budge on: paying collegiate athletes. According to the NCAA, student-athletes are paid through the education they receive and the opportunity to play sports at the highest level. It is past time for this opinion to change, and the state of California is leading that charge. The state senate passed the Fair Pay to Play Act (SB 206) — by unanimous decision — to allow collegiate athletes to be paid for the use of their name, image or likeness, as well as signing agents and endorsement deals. The bill now heads to California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk, and the NCAA has wasted no time in notifying Newsom of their position on the bill. The NCAA board sent a letter to Newsom threatening to ban California schools from competing in NCAA events, as the bill would give said schools an unfair advantage in recruiting.
California shouldn’t be punished for wanting to give its student-athletes the compensation they have long deserved. Not to mention, it is extremely hard to believe this bill will dissuade top football players from committing to powerhouses like Alabama and Clemson.
Competing every day against the best collegiate athletes in the world leaves little time to partake in much else, especially the free education the NCAA lauds so fervently. Athletes like former Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, who graduated from Stanford with a degree in architectural design before being drafted by the Colts, are certainly not the norm. For many athletes, their only chance at a career is through their sport. Especially for football players — whose careers can be fleeting — it is incredibly important to make as much money as soon as possible, as the threat of injury looms larger every day.
Under SB 206, athletes would not receive compensation from their institution but rather from outside sources such as signing autographs, using their likenesses in video games (this may open the door to the long-awaited return of the popular series “NCAA Football“) or selling their game-worn gear. This means there will be no need to increase institutions’ budgets, a potential worry for state schools.
There is widespread support for the bill from professional athletes such as Lebron James and Kevin Durant, as well as Vermont senator Bernie Sanders. Not only are athletes currently prohibited from signing shoe or other gear deals, but they also can’t accept any kind of money from any outside source. One might suggest athletes should find employment, but when training to compete at the highest level, athletes barely have time to go to class, let alone work a full-time job — another issue the NCAA seems to conveniently forget.
Hopefully this bill sets a precedent for future action on the part of the NCAA and will inspire more states to follow suit. A drastic change in collegiate sports could be coming, and it rests on Newsom’s shoulders.