More college athletes may soon be California-bound. It won’t be mild temperatures or sandy beaches that lure them to the West Coast but cold, hard cash. California plans to allow college players to hire agents and sign advertising deals, just like pros. The merits of this first-in-the-nation “Fair Pay To Play” law are still being debated.
NCAA: No Promo
Arguments about paying college athletes have been roiling for years. The National College Athletic Association (NCAA) has always insisted that a student-athlete is a student first and an athlete second. NCAA rules bar these amateur (nonprofessional) student-athletes from profiting from their “name, image, or likeness” while in school. That means students can’t get paid to promote sneakers, soft drinks, equipment—nothing at all.
Many people disagree with that policy. They complain that schools, athletic departments, and the NCAA make loads of money off talented players. Sadly, these are often the students who struggle to get by financially.
Golden State Warriors forward Glenn Robinson III knows. He played college ball at Michigan and says, “A lot of players couldn’t afford lunch.”
Cali: Plug Away
California’s new law gives college athletes the right to earn money by plugging products or making appearances. Governor Gavin Newsom points out that students in other fields—such as music or technology—often get paid for using their talents. But student-athletes can’t—even though the schools “make millions, often at great risk to athletes’ health, academics, and professional careers.”
The California law should take effect in 2023. Student-athletes won’t get salaries. But now they can’t lose their scholarships or get kicked off teams for entering into advertising deals.
Newsom and others claim the law will bring more fairness to college athletics—and let players share in the wealth they’re creating for their schools.
NCAA President Mark Emmert dislikes California’s law. Other critics of “Fair Pay To Play” say athletes already get paid: in the form of scholarships—as much as $25,000 to $60,000 per year.
According to the New York Times, other states will probably follow California’s lead. South Carolina legislators intend to introduce a similar bill. New York is going further. The Empire State intends to force schools to fork over some of the ticket-sale profits to the athletes.
The NCAA is re-examining its guidelines. Many are hopeful that the organization will make some changes in leveling the athlete-school playing field. Newsom doubts NCAA officials will bar California universities from competition. He believes the NCAA “can’t afford to do that,” calling the state’s population and economy “too big to lose.”
Few college players make it to the pros. Even fewer generate enough buzz to land big promotional deals. But California’s new law gives the NCAA a much-needed wake-up call.
The laborer deserves his wages. — 1 Timothy 5:18