California to force NCAA to pay athletes

Originally published at:


"College athletes are workers. Pay them.").

Is it retroactive, I’d like some of that action.


First, this seems like an empty threat since no one who genuinely cares about sports is going to want to ignore the nation’s single biggest pool of potential athletes, just as no major car manufacturer can afford to ignore California’s air quality standards for fear of losing out on the nation’s single biggest potential market.

Second—if they did, so what? It’s literally just a game.


Allowing endorsement deals is not exactly paying for play. Most athletes are more or less faceless. Either they are supporting players in a large team or they play a sport that does not get a lot of media airtime. So this legislation does not appear to mean the college badminton team is now on salary. But instead it means the star quarterback can get paid to put his face on a Wheaties box.


The colleges say it spells the end of California’s participation in collegiate sports, predicting that California teams will be excluded from national play (they don’t mention the possibility that other states will pass legislation similar to California’s).



This doesn’t make the NCAA pay athletes, it allows NCAA athletes to charge others for their likeness. It’s a subtle difference but it’s important.


Here’s the text of the bill.


A few years ago there was an Ohio State football player who was suspended by the NCAA for trading one of his jerseys for a tattoo. Meanwhile they were selling his jersey online and in stores without giving him a cent. True, he was getting a free education but it still seems a bit hypocritical to me.


My thoughts as well. Haven’t read the bill, so perhaps there’s more to it than in this BB post. However, if the BB post is accurate, then the name of the bill is definitely off base. If it really is just a license for athletes “to get paid for ‘the use of their name, image and likeness’” then the schools will definitely find creative ways around it.

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Specifically, it stops the NCAA from sanctioning athletes from using their own likeness.


“The bill would prohibit the revocation of a student’s scholarship as a result of earning compensation or obtaining legal representation as authorized under these provisions.” [emphasis mine]

I think the ability to pick up an agent without getting kicked out of school might be an even more important provision of the bill. There are a decent number of stories in basketball of guys who didn’t have all the information and declared early for the draft, fell far enough that they didn’t get signing bonuses or even spots on the team, and now play in Europe or the d-league to make ends meet. There are also plenty of kids effectively earning less than minimum wage in Minor League Baseball who weren’t allowed to talk to an agent before deciding to forego college.


go into effect in 2023


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So that it does not create a quagmire of lawsuits and legal harangues for existing athletes and the schools they currently have contracts with?


Perhaps, but couldn’t the past be dealt with by an anti-grandfather clause, and kick the news rules into force with effect from the start of the next school year going /forwards/?


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Same: IANAL.


That isn’t entirely true. College sports is a two tier system. There is division 1 football and men’s basketball which are pro leagues with unpaid athletes and there is everything else which operates largely the way you expect an amateur sports league to operate. There is a bit regional variation with a few sports veering more into the pro territory in certain regions, but nobody is making a killing off of merchandising gymnastics.

I would be happiest if we could just get rid of pro sports in colleges and universities, but failing that this sounds like a reasonable approach.

The whole idea of college students being “amateurs” was only ever a way for schools to profit off of athletes.
I had an academic scholarship in college and I also worked as a paid research tech. No one ever said that my scholarship should be revoked because I was no longer an amateur. Same for any other non-athletic scholarship. Being a college student and being an amateur are completely unrelated.

I’m an LSU alumnus (and huge sports fan). LSU football brings in more than $10,000,000 per home game. If the players got any cut of that or had any say in how the game was run, then those currently controling things and making the money would have less money and power.
Same for likeness rights. NCAA makes billions on tv revenue and video games. Currently they don’t need players permission to sell their likeness. If they did they wouldn’t make as much money.

Of course students should retain the rights to their likeness. If fixing this absurdity decreases athletic revenues, then so the hell what.


The NCAA currently profits of the likenesses of all D1 football and basketball players (and some others) in video games. If the players retain their rights, that does mean that the NCAA will have to start paying them.

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No one has published an NCAA videogame since O’Bannon v. NCAA


It would be awesome if it’s retroactive, especially with the threat of booting CA teams from national play. It won’t be though, even CA lacks that level of vision.