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Volume 26 No. 179
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California Fair Pay NIL Bill Now Official With Governor's Signature

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed a bill that would allow college athletes in the state to "earn money from the use of their names, images and likenesses" despite the NCAA claiming the measure would "upend amateur sports," according to Melody Gutierrez of the L.A. TIMES. Senate Bill 206, which was introduced by state Sen. Nancy Skinner, would "prohibit the NCAA from barring a university from competition if its athletes are compensated for the use of their name, image or likeness" beginning in '23. NCAA rules "strictly prohibit athletes from profiting in any way from their sports." While the bill would "allow athletes to sign endorsement deals with major companies, it would also open up smaller opportunities that were previously prohibited, such as paid youth coaching positions." SB 206 would still "forbid schools from directly paying athletes." The NCAA "urged California to hold off on the bill to give a working group formed earlier this year more time to examine the name, image and likeness issue" (L.A. TIMES, 9/30). USA TODAY's Steve Berkowitz notes Newsom's action "seems likely to result in a court fight well before the bill's effective date." Politicians in South Carolina, Illinois and New York in recent weeks have "either introduced, or announced their intention to introduce, bills similar to California’s." That comes along with "legislative efforts already having occurred or been announced in Congress and in the states of Washington and Colorado" (USA TODAY, 9/30). Newsom's signature will "only increase the volume on the national debate surrounding college athlete pay" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 9/30).

GOING INSIDE THE MOMENT: Newsom officially signed SB 206 while filming an episode of HBO’s “The Shop” with Lakers F LeBron James and SpringHill Entertainment CEO Maverick Carter. James said, “We’ve created this platform to be able to have moments like this, where we’ve got the governor of California signing a bill to allow athletes in college (to be compensated).” Carter said the country was “built on the principle of capitalism” where someone should be “compensated” for their play. Newsom said he “got a few calls from” NCAA President Mark Emmert “trying to make sure I don’t use this pen” to sign the bill into law. Newsom: “They’re a little panicked because they recognize they’re vulnerable. People are hitting this, not just in California but all across the country, because the gig’s up.” Mercury G Diana Taurasi, also appearing on the episode, said, “You’re challenging a system that’s been entrenched in money and power and a certain way of thinking for a long time ... so the minute you challenge that, you’re going to get a lot of blowback.” Newsom said the biggest opposition to the bill has been school presidents, as they have told him things like, “What the hell are you doing destroying college sports?” Newsom: “They all think this is the end of Title IX, that you’re destroying the purity of amateurism. Not once did they talk about the needs of these kids.” Carter asked Newsom, “Will they even listen to you?” Newsom: “They’re going to after I sign this." Newsom said this was not “checkmate” for the NCAA, but “this is a major problem for the NCAA" (“The Shop,” HBO, 9/30).

NCAA RESPONDS: The NCAA believes the California law is "creating confusion for current and future athletes, coaches, administrators and schools." The organization said that changes are "needed to continue to support student-athletes, but improvement needs to happen on a national level through the NCAA's rules-making process." It indicated that it is "considering its next steps in California but did not elaborate" (AP, 9/30). In N.Y., Alan Blinder notes the NCAA announced in May that it had "convened a committee to consider changes -- a tactic that supporters of the existing model hoped would buy time and stave off legislative action." The group's recommendations are "expected in October, but California officials, skeptical that the NCAA would adopt substantive reforms, chose to press ahead with their legislation without waiting." Newsom said, "People said, 'You know what, we've got to force their hands.' They're not going to do the right thing on their own. They only do the right thing when they're sued or they're forced to do the right thing" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/30).

SOMETHING TO KEEP IN MIND: The AP's Adam Beam writes while the NCAA is the "top governing body for college sports, membership is voluntary." If the California schools are "forced out, it could prompt others to follow and form a new league" (AP, 9/30).