Press Box: California’s ‘Fair Pay to Play Act’ would set a precedent 

Illustration by Karly Andersen

Noah Fleischman, Sports Editor

Donald De La Haye, a former UCF football player, was asked by the NCAA to stop monetizing videos that included him in an athletic setting. 

“The waiver also allowed him to create videos that referenced his status as a student-athlete or depict his football skill or ability if they were posted to a non-monetized account,” UCF said in a statement at the time.

De La Haye did not accept the NCAA’s proposition, making him ineligible to continue playing on the football team. 

Currently, the NCAA does not allow athletes to accept money for using their name, image or likeness. In some instances they have tried to shut down college athletes’ YouTube channels because they were profiting off of them. 

In California, the state assembly and senate passed a bill that would not necessarily pay athletes for playing a college sport, but it said that the athletes couldn’t have their eligibility revoked if they profited off their likeness.

The bill was passed unanimously in the assembly Sept. 9, and in the state senate Sept. 11. Now, it sits on the governor’s desk to be signed into law. The NCAA sent a letter to the California governor Sept. 11 calling the bill “unconstitutional.” It also said that the schools in California would be ineligible to compete in the NCAA. 

If California senate bill 206 — or what it’s known as “Fair Pay to Play Act” — were signed into law, it would set an important precedent. 

The NCAA said the Fair Pay to Play Act would give schools in California a recruiting advantage over the 49 states that do not have a similar law in place. But, if the bill were to be signed into law, it would not go into effect until 2023, giving other states ample time to pass similar laws. 

In order for it to work, every state needs to pass a law similar to California’s so that the NCAA is forced to recognize it.

As it stands now, NCAA athletes cannot make money coaching at youth camps or accept free gifts. These athletes make so much money for the NCAA and their schools, and they should be allowed to profit off their names the same way the NCAA does. 

Drive on Interstate 95 and you’ll notice billboards for VCU Athletics, mainly advertising men’s and women’s basketball. That’s a prime example of a university using the likeness of athletes to sell tickets to games, and it’s no different from an athlete using their image to make money. 

Look at the NCAA Tournament as another example. During the 2018 NCAA Tournament, the entity made a total of $1 billion. Why did the NCAA make that staggering amount of money? The players who competed. 

An argument the NCAA made in its letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom was the act would blur the line between a professional athlete and a college athlete. Well, most college athletes are practically professionals in their sport based on the amount of time spent training during the week. Don’t forget that the athletes go to class on top of their athletic obligations. 

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