NCAA warns California lawmakers: Teams could be banned

Not so fast!

While California lawmakers recently passed a bill that would permit college athletes to receive compensation for the use of their names, images of likenesses, the NCAA is pushing back.

According to a USA Today report, NCAA President Mark Emmert sent a letter last week to two state assembly committee chairs to inform them that should the bill become law, California schools could be deemed ineligible to compete in NCAA championships.

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“We recognize all of the efforts that have been undertaken to develop this bill in the context of complex issues related to the current collegiate model that have been the subject of litigation and much national debate,” Emmert wrote. “Nonetheless, when contrasted with current NCAA rules, as drafted the bill threatens to alter materially the principles of intercollegiate athletics and create local differences that would make it impossible to host fair national championships. As a result, it likely would have a negative impact on the exact student athletes it intends to assist.”

Emmert asked that the bill be put on hold while the NCAA continues to discuss the matter. Last month, the NCAA announced that it had formed a task force made up of school presidents and athletic administrators to “examine issues highlighted in recently proposed federal and state legislation related to student-athlete name, image and likeness.”

The bill passed the California Senate last month by a vote of 31-4. It is scheduled to go before the arts, sports, tourism and internet committee on Tuesday, and should it pass vote there, it will move on to the higher education committee, which will have until July 11 to vote on it.

In response to Emmert’s letter, an amendment was added to the bill that would force lawmakers to monitor and listen to NCAA recommendations.

While the bill, if made law, would not go into effect until 2023, some argue it could create conflict and confusion between athletes and the NCAA.

“This bill could result in our students and campuses being unable to participate in intercollegiate sports,” said Jeff Stone (R-Temecula).

However, others see an opportunity for California to be a trailblazer.

“What we’re doing is setting a marker,” said Bill Dodd (D-Napa). “… Having this date set forward in 2023 allows the NCAA to do the job that they should be doing not just for California, but for all other 49 states in our great union.”

The state of California has 23 NCAA Division I schools, including four programs who play in the Pac-12 Conference – Cal, Stanford, UCLA and USC. All four of those schools were represented in the NCAA Division I Golf Championships last month, including Stanford and USC, which qualified both its men's and women's teams. The Cardinal won the men's title.

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