LeBron James voices support for California bill that would allow college athletes to be paid

<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nba/players/3704/" data-ylk="slk:LeBron James">LeBron James</a> wants student athletes to be paid, unlike the NCAA. (George Pimentel/Getty Images)
LeBron James wants student athletes to be paid, unlike the NCAA. (George Pimentel/Getty Images)

LeBron James, star of the Los Angeles Lakers (and soon of “Space Jam 2”), tweeted in support of California's Fair Pay to Play Act on Thursday. The bill, which is also known as Senate Bill 206, would allow student-athletes in the state to be paid for the use of their name and likeness.

James sent a string of tweets that strongly supported the bill, and encouraged California residents to call their state lawmakers to voice their opinions.

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California can indeed change the game by passing the bill, which would circumvent the NCAA’s unfair and draconian rules forbidding student-athletes from making money and allow them to be paid for having their pictures and names on merchandise. The bill would also allow student-athletes to sign endorsement deals and hire agents.

The NCAA, of course, is strongly opposed to any legislation that would put money in the pockets of the student-athletes instead of their own. In a letter NCAA president Mark Emmert sent to California lawmakers in June, he implied that the entire state could be barred from NCAA championships if the bill is passed and signed into law.

California doesn’t seem to care about Emmert’s threats. While the bill has not yet been voted on, California’s Committee on Higher Education unanimously passed it in July. From there it went to the Assembly Appropriations Committee, which passed it 15-1 on Aug. 30. According to the California State Legislature website, the bill has been debated twice on the assembly floor and a third debate has been ordered. If the bill is voted on and passed, it would go into effect in 2023, giving the NCAA ample time to adjust its rules and allow student-athletes to be paid for their work.

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