Monday, September 30, 2019

California to let college athletes make money, defying NCAA

In this March 22, 2010, file photo, basketballs are seen before Northern Iowa's NCAA college basketball practice, in Cedar Falls, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)

In this March 22, 2010, file photo, basketballs are seen before Northern Iowa's NCAA college basketball practice, in Cedar Falls, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)


Sacramento, Calif. — Defying the NCAA, California's governor signed a first-in-the-nation law Monday that will let college athletes hire agents and make money from endorsements — a move that could upend amateur sports in the U.S. and trigger a legal challenge.

Under the law, which takes effect in 2023, students at public and private universities in the state will be allowed to sign deals with sneaker companies, soft drink makers or other advertisers and profit from their images, names or likenesses, just like the pros.

"It's going to change college sports for the better by having now the interest, finally, of the athletes on par with the interests of the institutions," Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a tweeted video. "Now we're rebalancing that power arrangement."

He predicted other states will introduce similar legislation. Two lawmakers in South Carolina have already announced plans to do so.

The new law applies to all sports, though the big money to be made is in football and basketball. It bars schools from kicking athletes off the team if they get paid. It does not apply to community colleges and prohibits athletes from accepting endorsement deals that conflict with their schools' existing contracts.

The NCAA, which had asked Newsom to veto the bill, responded by saying it will consider its "next steps" while also moving forward with "efforts to make adjustments to NCAA name, image and likeness rules that are both realistic in modern society and tied to higher education."

The NCAA, which has 1,100 member schools and claims nearly a half-million athletes, said that "changes are needed to continue to support student-athletes," but that such changes must be done at a national level through the NCAA, not through a patchwork of state laws.

Before the governor signed the bill, the NCAA cautioned that the law would give California universities an unfair recruiting advantage, which could prompt the athletic association to bar them from competition.

Powerhouse programs like the University of Southern California, the University of California, Los Angeles, Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley, could find themselves banned.

But while the NCAA is the top governing body for college sports, membership is voluntary. If the California schools are forced out, they could form a new league.

Professional athletes have endorsed the law, including NBA superstar LeBron James, whose 14-year-old son is a closely watched basketball prospect in Los Angeles and will be 18 when the measure takes effect.

On Instagram, James exulted over the signing of the law, saying it will "change the lives for countless athletes who deserve it!"

He added: "NCAA, you got the next move. We can solve this for everyone!

Democratic state Sen. Nancy Skinner, the bill's author, said the measure lets athletes share in the wealth they create.

"For decades, college sports has generated billions for all involved except the very people most responsible for creating the wealth. That's wrong," she said.

Newsom likewise portrayed the law as righting a wrong.

"Other college students with a talent, whether it be literature, music, or technological innovation, can monetize their skill and hard work," he said. "Student athletes, however, are prohibited from being compensated while their respective colleges and universities make millions, often at great risk to athletes' health, academics, and professional careers."

The NCAA has steadfastly refused to pay players in most cases. But a committee led by Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith and Big East Commissioner Val Ackerman is studying other ways players could make money. Its report is expected in October.

The NCAA does let some athletes accept money in some instances. Tennis players can accept up to $10,000 in prize money per year, and Olympians can accept winnings from their competitions. Plus, schools in the big "Power 5" conferences can pay players yearly cost-of-living stipends of between $2,000 and $4,000.

The NCAA reported $1.1 billion in revenue in 2017.


Ryan Shelton 3 years ago

Looks like the PAC-10 just became relevant again. What could KU possibly say to a 5 star athlete to compete against this?

Dirk Medema 3 years ago

You might not be able to sign an endorsement deal, but you will be eligible to compete. You do want to compete in your sport, right?

The NCAA doesn't have to declare student-athletes eligible if they break a rule. There is a difference between rules and laws. Each has their own area of application.

Suzi Marshall 3 years ago

I wish Kansas, (the home of John Brown, Topeka Board of Education and Phog Allen) was the first state to do this. This is going to be an interesting legal fight, if the NCAA is dumb enough to challenge in court.

Joe Ross 3 years ago

I wish Kansas would follow suit, yes; but I'm glad we weren't the first. If we were it might appear as if the move were made to garner public support for a Regents school in hot water, perhaps in an effort to circumvent punishment. I'm all FOR Kansas getting out of trouble, don't get me wrong. The fact that the NCAA is adjudicating this--the body who makes money off of these athletes--is a travesty, while they deny athletes making money off of their own personas. But there is a finesse lacking if one doesn't consider how actions taken might be perceived in the public eye.

Suzi Marshall 3 years ago

Perhaps, but it is the RIGHT thing to do.

Freddie Garza 3 years ago

The State of Kansas would be wise to follow suit. Other states would follow. The NCAA (and it's facade of amateurism) would be put on its heels.

Dane Pratt 3 years ago

They are already in over their heads with shoegate. There are over 30 programs involved and Inspector Clouseau is in charge.

Bill Pitcher 3 years ago

Never thought I'd agree with anything California did, but their new law will force a change in the NCAA's booster rule and ultimately bring sanity to the NCAA's out-of-control enforcement office.

Joe Ross 3 years ago

I agree with what you say here. Nevertheless, even if the definition of a booster is changed and even if public sentiment forces the NCAA to allow boosters to contribute to athletes' pockets, Kansas could still be in trouble. A change would come ex post facto. The NCAA being as stubborn and dense as they are, is a body keen on doling out punishment. Even if their bylaws were changed, they could use whatever arguments they already have against us to say that Kansas committed infractions when "old bylaws" were still in effect.

Phil Leister 3 years ago

KU basketball may end up being one of a few sacrificial lambs to expose the sheer idiocy of the NCAA. That, along with the California legislation and other states soon following suit, is going to make for an interesting next few years for the NCAA.

Gordon Penny 3 years ago

This is the most ludicrous idea ever. Instead of parity in college sports, it is going to be a case of the-rich-get-richer. Those schools that can offer the most money or the best deals to athletes will get the best athletes. I sincerely hope the NCAA charges any California schools that pay athletes or plays athletes that violate existing rules with violations and ban them from competition. If we want student athletes to be paid, then we need to set an amount they can be paid, and have that amount be the same across all schools. We cannot have a case of universities purchasing student athletes.

Phil Leister 3 years ago

Hey Gordon, you should try reading the article before posting an uninformed comment. Nothing about this new law allows universities to pay athletes.

Dane Pratt 3 years ago

Is the NCAA willing/able to turn their back on 40 million people?

Robert Brock 3 years ago

College basketball - as we have known it - is wrecked.

Jeff Coffman 3 years ago

This is way more complicated then this. Did California just make it legal for schools to bypass Title IX? If not, this bill has not addressed the key issue and will likely run into issues with anti-discrimination laws.

Phil Leister 3 years ago

Schools will not be paying athletes.

Jonathan Allison 3 years ago

the way I see it is: this law, which doesn't take effect until 2023, will likely make it illegal for state schools in CA to require their student athletes to maintain amateurism. Which means that unless the NCAA changes the amateurism rules, that all state schools in CA will be forced to separate from the NCAA.

The reason for the 2023 effective date is likely either to allow the NCAA to update the rulebook in accordance with CA, or to allow the CA Regents to negotiation their divorce from the NCAA, or to allow the CA legislature to amend or repeal the Fair Pay law.

I do NOT foresee the CA Regents divorcing from the NCAA. I do think that eventually the NCAA will change the amateurism rules in order to allow student athletes to profit from their names, likenesses, etc. but I doubt that it will happen by 2023.

It will be interesting to see how the NCAA responds over the next couple years. Change is happening. Be it ever so slow.

Dale Rogers 3 years ago

I think if enough additional states pass similar legislation then the NCAA will be forced to amend current practice. There will be a lot of legal wrangling between now and 2023.

Armen Kurdian 3 years ago

This is so asinine. I hope NCAA states any team w/a player that gets that kind of compensation is banned from post-season activity, and has to forfeit games they play against out-of-state opponents. Look at the tuition at UCLA and all the costs involved there. These guys get a freakin' full ride, tuition, housing, food, EVERYTHING, and now this BS...more of the bat-crap craziness we deal with in this state. I hope this gets challenged in court.

Dirk Medema 3 years ago

No need to challenge it in court. As you said, they make the rules for their game, and if you want to play in their games, then you have to follow the rules.

Barry Weiss 3 years ago

The NCAA should suspend all NOAs', including the recent one handed to KU, until this compensation matter is resolved in a court of appropriate jurisdiction. To hammer KU in the next year, and then allow substantially similar activity to take place in 3 years is unfair to KU.

Dirk Medema 3 years ago

This coming from the state that is suing the federal government over 30 different issues or something like that, then says, Oh, and by the way we need you to help us out extra with the homeless problem.

Jonathan Allison 3 years ago

so much to say about open borders, free healthcare, tuition, and the list goes on. Of course they want student athletes to profit because it will increase their tax revenue, but it will never be enough. I could go on, but this is not the appropriate forum.

That said. Allowing student athletes to profit off of sponsorships, endorsements, etc. does not necessarily have to destroy the entire US collegiate athletics model. But it will make it harder to maintain competitive fairness... if such a thing actually exists anyway.

Bryce Landon 3 years ago

I have mixed feelings about this.

Part of me says, "Typical California, always carrying themselves like the rules don't apply to them because they're California."

Another part of me says, "We'll have a lot less NCAA violations in college sports if we have a lot less NCAA rules, and this is a first step in that direction!"

Mike Greer 3 years ago

The only way this doesn't become a cluster (expletive), is if the NCAA gets out in front of the situation and imeadiately makes it legal for athletes to get endorsements and compensation for the use of their image or likeness across the board. To cut the head off of the snake, they need to have new regulations in place before more states make their own rules. One set of rules, even if they're California's rules, is going to be easier to deal with than 50 slightly diffrtent sets of rules. Do I think the NCAA is capable of doing this, no. The only way competition will be fair is if every school has the same ". . . endorsement. . ." rule for the potential athletes. The CA law states the athletes have to be endorsed by the same company the school has a contract with. So Nike schools would have Nike athletes and so on. Now which shoe company is willing to pay out the most money and for which schools? The NCAA is going to have to put financial limits, preferably a single dollar amount, on what athletes can get in compensation. Are shoe companies going to pay as much for an athlete to go to Kansas as they are for one to go to Texas where the population is 10x greater, meaning 10x more viewers of their footwear? Not likely.

Jeff Coffman 3 years ago

Ironically Lebron James is heading this, when he wasn't even involved with college sports.

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