California Lawmaker Introduces 'Fair Pay to Play Act'

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A California state senator is proposing legislation that would allow the state’s college athletes to be paid for the use of their image, name and likeness.

According to the Sacramento Bee, state Sen. Nancy Skinner, who represents California’s 9th senate district, has introduced Senate Bill 206, called the “Fair Pay to Play Act,” which would enable student-athletes from the state’s 24 public colleges and universities to be paid indirectly via sponsorship agreements. The bill would also make it illegal for schools or organizations such as the NCAA to restrict or punish student-athletes for seeking these kinds of agreements.

“College athletes have been exploited by a deeply unfair system,” Skinner told the Bee. “The NCAA, the universities, the media, they’ve made billions of dollars on the talent of athletes, while the athletes have not received anything.”

Washington state is currently considering similar legislation. House Bill 1084 reads in part:

“The legislature finds that every student enrolled at an institution of higher education in this state should have an equal right: To earn compensation for services provided; to be paid for the use of his or her name, image, and likeness; and to hire agents to represent the student’s interests. The legislature further finds that students should not be compelled to choose between forfeiting these rights and participating in intercollegiate athletic competitions.”

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Related: Bill Allowing College Athletes Pay to Get Hearing

Both bills would similarly make the it illegal for the NCAA to enforce its rules, but as the The Athletic notes, the NCAA is not subject to state laws. It’s likely that if these bills pass, a standoff between the lawmakers and the collegiate sports governing body would ensue. Lawmakers would bet that the body would accommodate the new legislation, rather than essentially ban all NCAA member schools where such bills become law.

Skinner is bullish on California eventually passing the Fair Pay to Play Act, telling The Athletic that “I’m confident that my colleagues in the California legislature do understand basic fairness, and most all of them are going to have college athlete constituents. While this is taking on a powerful interest, I think they’re going to fall on the right side of history on this one.”

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