California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) has signed into law a bill allowing college athletes to hire agents and sign endorsement deals, setting the stage for a likely clash with the NCAA and potentially reshaping college athletics entirely.
The first of its kind Fair Pay to Play Act is set to take effect on Jan. 1, 2023, against the urging of the NCAA Board of Governors.
In a Sept. 11 letter to Newsom, the board predicted the legislation would “wipe out the distinction between college and professional athletics.” California schools might be banned from NCAA-sanctioned competitions over the “unfair recruiting advantage” offered by the bill, the group warned.
Newsom wasn’t persuaded.
“Colleges reap billions from student athletes but block them from earning a single dollar,” he said in a statement Monday. “That’s a bankrupt model.”
The governor signed the bill surrounded by athletes who advocated for the measure’s adoption. That included Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James, three-time WNBA champion and four-time Olympic gold medalist Diana Taurasi, and retired NBA star Ed O’Bannon, whose 2009 lawsuit against the NCAA presented the first real legal challenge to the pay structure this new law hopes to change.
Newsom said the new law presents “a major problem for the NCAA.”
“It’s going to initiate dozens of other states to introduce similar legislation,” he predicted,