The state of California has officially signed the Fair Pay to Play Act into law. After months of wondering whether the state would defy the NCAA and go against their wishes, California will now let student-athletes make money of their name and likeness. But, what effect will this bill have on other states and the NCAA?
Fair Pay to Play Act
California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed the bill, which will be effective in January 2023, into law on Monday. The bill will allow student-athletes to profit off of their name and likeness, and some people inside and outside of the NCAA are happy that the Fair Pay to Play Act is now law. Particularly, Lakers star LeBron James, who attended the bill signing. He later wrote on Twitter that he was “incredibly proud to share this moment” with his fans and followers on social media.
I’m so incredibly proud to share this moment with all of you. @gavinnewsom came to The Shop to do something that will change the lives for countless athletes who deserve it! @uninterrupted hosted the formal signing for SB 206 allowing college athletes to responsibly get paid. pic.twitter.com/NZQGg6PY9d
— LeBron James (@KingJames) September 30, 2019
This bill has huge consequences, as now the question is to whether the NCAA will allow California schools to participate in postseason play. The NCAA hinted previously that it would not allow those schools to play in the postseason should this bill become law. Yesterday, the NCAA put out this response on Twitter:
— NCAA (@NCAA) September 30, 2019
The NCAA does agree that changes to the current system must be made. However, they later stated it will be difficult to enact any changes if other states go forward with other bills that are similar to the Fair Pay to Play Act.
What other states are considering student-athlete compensation bills?
We wrote an article a couple of weeks ago on New York State Senator Kevin Parker (D), who proposed a bill in New York that is similar to the Fair Pay to Play Act. One difference that the New York bill has, however, is that players would receive a 15% of revenue that schools receive from ticket sales. That would be a game changer, as all players would be guaranteed a piece of the pot, and not be reliant on endorsements or autograph signings in order to get paid.
South Carolina is another state that is considering legislation for student-athletes. Two South Carolina state legislators, Sen. Marlon Kimpson (D) and Rep. Justin Bamberg (D) told The State that they plan on proposing a bill similar to the Fair Pay to Play Act. This is pretty strong indicator that now that California signed a student-athlete bill into law, others will now work on “copycat” bills.
How does the NCAA feel about this?
We don’t know how the NCAA actually feels about this, and probably won’t until their “working group”, which we’ve written about in the past, comes back with their findings later this year. However, one member of that group may have tipped his hands on this issue today.
Ohio State AD Gene Smith, who is a member of that working group, stated that he opposes the Fair Pay to Play Act. He believes that the bill moves the NCAA to a “pay-to-play” model and will make it harder to ensure that fair play is possible in college athletics. Smith stated,
“My concern with the California bill — which is all the way wide open with monetizing your name and your likeness — is it moves slightly towards pay-for-play…and it’s very difficult for us — the practitioners in this space — to figure out how do you regulate it. How do you ensure that the unscrupulous bad actors do not enter that space and ultimately create an unlevel playing field?”
As a remedy, the NCAA could choose to prohibit teams in states that allow players to receive monetary compensation from participating in postseason play. However, if more states follow suit and pass similar laws, then that may not be possible. Whether the NCAA likes it or not, it may be forced to drastically change how it does business by forces outside their control.
Will NCAA Football or NCAA Basketball be coming back as a result?
We’ve also written in the past about how difficult it will be to bring back NCAA Football and NCAA Basketball. These bills make it easier for it to become a reality, but there are still questions that need to be answers. First, will high-end college players command more money to have their likeness in their game? The short answer is yes, and if that’s the case, how much money will it take to put that player in the game? If it’s too much, would a future developer omit that player? This is something to consider, as developers may need to rely on star power to sell games.
The second major question is whether or not the the NCAA would allow their logos and uniforms to be put into games. Maximum Football could not enter an agreement with the NCAA and IMG/Learfield regarding having schools’ names and logos in the game. And, the developers of the game had to make last-minute changes to Maximum Football after receiving a request to do so, as some of the names and logos were similar to real NCAA team names.
PSA: We recently received a request from IMG/Learfield (NCAA licensing partners) to change some of the default teams in our game. We were able to accommodate the request on very short notice. 1/2
— Maximum Football (@MaxFootballGame) September 26, 2019
It would be another revenue stream of the NCAA should they choose to enter a licensing agreement with a developer. But, they may be reluctant to do so based off of precedent.
Lastly, a developer would be needed for a new game. This probably won’t be difficult, as I’m sure many game developers would love to create a NCAA video game. However, a big question will be as to whether or not a company such as EA or Take-Two will a crack at creating a AAA NCAA video game. While some gamers may feel it would be a slam dunk, is developing a NCAA game from scratch worth the risk?
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