What is the Proposed Calif. Bill to Pay NCAA Athletes? Fair Pay to Play Act Explained.

Jenna West
Sports Illustrated

The California State Assembly passed a bill on Monday that will allow college athletes to be paid for the use of their name, likeness and image.

The assembly voted 73–0 for the proposed law–the Fair Pay to Play Act–which would make it illegal for California universities to revoke an athlete's scholarship or eligibility for taking money. Under the bill, schools would not pay athletes. Instead, the athletes could hire agents to seek out business deals for them.

What does this mean for the NCAA?

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While the bill has received support from notable figures, including LeBron James, Draymond Green and Bernie Sanders, California schools and the NCAA have opposed it. The bill would make it impossible for schools to follow the NCAA's amateurism rules. California has over 20 Division I schools, four of which are members of the Pac-12 conference.

In May, NCAA president Mark Emmert wrote a letter to legislators saying the bill could make California universities ineligible for national championships. An NCAA panel is currently looking for potential changes to the association's policies for athletes's name, likeness and image rights. The panel is set to share its findings to the NCAA's board of governors in October.

How did the bill start?

Senator Nancy Skinner introduced the bill in February, and it was passed in the State Senate 31–5 in May. The bill has been amended since then, which means it moves back to the Senate for a re-vote. If passed again, it heads to Gov. Gavin Newsome's desk, and he will have 30 days to sign the bill.

When would the bill go into effect if passed?

If both Newsome and the Senate pass the Act, it will go into effect on January 1, 2023. SI legal analyst Michael McCann explores what will happen if the Fair Pay to Play Act is signed into law and suggests that it could be changed before 2023.

"It would likely face legal challenges long before 2023 that could render the Act void or delay its implementation. The Act could also be rendered moot by potential NCAA reforms or proposed federal legislation that would, if passed by Congress and signed by the President, occupy the same space."

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