NCAA Sends Letter to CA Governor over Bill Allowing Athletes to Earn Income

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistSeptember 11, 2019

The NCAA logo is painted alongside the visitor dugout at Olsen Field before the start of a NCAA college baseball super regional tournament game between TCU and Texas A&M, Friday, June 10, 2016, in College Station, Texas. TCU won game one of the series 8-2. (AP Photo/Sam Craft)
Sam Craft/Associated Press

The NCAA sent a letter to California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday, explaining the ramifications of the state's Senate Bill 206 should it be signed into law.

Under the bill, college athletes in California would be eligible for compensation under an "unrestricted name, image and likeness scheme." The NCAA Board of Governors insisted that passing the bill would "wipe out the distinction between college and professional athletics and eliminate the element of fairness that supports all of college sports."

The NCAA also stated in the letter that the 58 NCAA schools in California would no longer be permitted to compete in NCAA competitions if the bill is passed since they would have an "unfair recruiting advantage" over the other member schools across the nation.

Per Steve Berkowitz of USA Today, the California State Assembly passed the bill by a 72-0 vote Monday. If Newsom signs the bill into law, then college athletes in the state of California can begin profiting off their own name, image and likeness beginning Jan. 1, 2023.

In the letter to Newsom, the NCAA noted that while it is working on allowing student-athletes to use their own likeness, it doesn't believe they should be paid to play:

"The NCAA continues to focus on the best interests of all student-athletes nationwide. NCAA member schools already are working on changing rules for all student-athletes to appropriately use their name, image and likeness in accordance with our values—but not pay them to play. The NCAA has consistently stood by its belief that student-athletes are students first, and they should not be employees of the university."

While passing the bill into law could result in big-time schools such as USC, UCLA and Stanford getting dropped by the NCAA, it could also create a ripple effect across the country.

Since other schools would conceivably lose top student-athletes to California-based schools, it could compel other states to pass similar laws in the future.

The NCAA expressed its belief that the bill is "unconstitutional," though, and it is clear that the bill becoming a law would not be the end of the longstanding question over whether student-athletes should be paid.

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