New California Bill to Pay Student-Athletes Could Lead to NCAA Ban

The State of California is currently considering a bill that, if signed into law, would allow for NCAA student-athletes in California to profit off their name, image, and likeness beginning in 2023. Though four years may seem a far-distant future, it means that freshman beginning in the fall of 2019 could start earning money while still playing in the NCAA as 5th-year seniors.

Since the bill would only work to the benefit of student-athletes in California, NCAA President Mark Emmert implied in a letter written to the Chairs of two State Assemblies in California that, if passed, California schools could face an NCAA championship ban. There are 23 Division I schools in California, four of which are members of the Pac-12 Conference.

Emmert declared that the proposed legislation “would make it impossible to host fair national championships,” and that it would have a negative impact on the student-athletes it is meant to help. An excerpt of the letter reads:

“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,” wrote Emmert to the committee chairs. “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.”

The bill passed in the State Senate 31-4, and is scheduled to be discussed and voted on by the Assembly’s Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism and Internet Media Committee today (Tuesday, June 25th), and will be chaired by Assembly member Kansen Chu (D-San Jose).

A spokeswoman for Chu said Emmert’s letter prompted Chu to seek an amendment from Sen. Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), the bill’s author, reports USA Today. Last week, wording was added to the bill that says “it is the intent of the Legislature to monitor” the NCAA working group and “revisit this issue to implement significant findings and recommendations of the NCAA working group in furtherance of the statutory changes proposed by this act.” However, the proposed statutory changes remain the same.

Emmert has asked that the committees postpone their discussions of the bill to allow the NCAA more time to examine its own rules regarding athletes making money from their own names, images, and likenesses.

Though a similar nation-wide bill was proposed by North Carolina Representative Mark Walker earlier this year, California’s particular hang-up is that the bill would only benefit student-athletes in California, potentially giving them a financial and material advantage over amateur NCAA athletes in other states.

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I understand the idea that it would be unfair as California would draw in the best athletes because they could get paid. The solution is not to ban California schools, its to make this bill nationwide.


That’s right but that’s a lot harder to do then it is in one state like California.

Steve Nolan

Exactly! There really aren’t any “complex issues” as Emmert alluded to.


No, no complex issues at all… no one should question who pays the athletes, if they have to sign contracts, if the schools even need to know what those contracts say, if anyone needs to know who is funding them or what their stipulations/performance/injury agreements are. Let’s not care if boosters do the recruiting, let’s not care if there are illicit activities going on behind the scenes, what kind of deals and deal breakers happen – no one is going to take that kind of advantage of 18 year old kids – especially ones from difficult backgrounds. Oh, and Title IX compliance (if it still exists in pros since we’re really focused on money here, not good intention) – all… Read more »

Steve Nolan

Uh. There are a lot more jobs where we pay people than where we don’t. I feel like we’ve figured out how to compensate people for their labor. (Not fairly, mind you, but people get paychecks.)

They’re employees. Give them money.

Michael Napoli



NCAA is bluffing. And even if they’re not, I hope Cali schools stick it to em anyway.


Is there a link to the bill, I’m wondering where that money would be coming from.


That’s the thing about the market. You don’t have to specify where the money comes from or how much there has to be to whom. You just allow for it to happen.

Of course, colleges could just function as a cartel and cooperate to pay athletes $0. But then whichever one breaks ranks to attract athletes now just has to beat $0… And even then, that floor is precisely where we’re at today. Except not only can colleges not pay athletes, but they can’t even take endorsements. So you have people like Missy Franklin having to choose college swimming OR dollars.

Seriously though, America, bastion of capitalism, forbids people giving money to other people.


“Of course, colleges could just function as a cartel and cooperate to pay athletes $0.” you’re describing the NCAA


Yes, I know. That’s why I said “… that floor is precisely where we’re at today.”

Steve Nolan

We absolutely hate the free market in sports. Salary caps, drafts, not paying college athletes, etc etc.

But it makes sense when you realize who benefits from these systems – owners! As MLK said, America’s got “socialism for the rich and free enterprise for the poor.”

About Reid Carlson

Reid Carlson

Reid Carlson originally hails from Clay Center, Kansas, where he began swimming at age six.  At age 14 he began swimming club year-round and later with his high school team, making state all four years.  He was fortunate enough to draw the attention of Kalamazoo College where he went on to …

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