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.