Fair Pay to Play Act: States bucking NCAA to let athletes be paid for name, image, likeness
Legislators across the country — and in the nation's capital — are rushing to empower college athletes
October will prove to be a pivotal and monumental month for the future of college athletics. It's been a mere three days since California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law Senate Bill 206, which will allow California-based college athletes to profit off their name, image and likeness — and be protected from eligibility sanctions by the NCAA — beginning Jan. 1, 2023.
Since Newsom officially put pen to paper, the ripple effects have begun a collective curl into waves of political push against the NCAA and its status quo regarding amateurism. While California is in the books as the first state to institute college athlete empowerment to this extent, nearly a dozen other states have begun lining up to introduce equivalent bills.
Things are changing quickly, so much so that it's already tough to keep track of what states are looking to potentially implement legislature that mimics what California's already done.
As of Oct. 3, here are the states with bill proposals forthcoming in the weeks and months ahead (depending on when each state's legislature is in session).
California. Senate Bill 206 "Fair Pay to Play Act" | Effective Jan. 1, 2023
Bills created or forthcoming
Colorado: Sen. Owen Hill (R) and Sen. Jeff Bridges (D) will introduce a to-be-named bill when their state's legislative session is active in 2020. No additional details have been provided.
Florida: There will be two bills on the table. The first from Rep. Kionne McGhee (D), House Bill 251, has already been filed but not voted upon. It has an effective date of July 1, 2020. The other, from Rep. Chip LaMarca (R), is not yet fully formed but is also expected to have an effective date preceding the California law.
Illinois: Rep. Chris Welch (D) has introduced House Bill 3904. The bill already has nine co-sponsors. No additional details have been provided.
Kentucky: Sen. Morgan McGarvey (D) has a bill in the works that has yet to be assigned/titled. No additional details have been provided.
Minnesota: Rep. Nolan West (R) plans to introduce his state's bill in 2020. No additional details have been provided.
Nevada: Multiple politicians have gone on the record to say they will explore a similar bill to the one passed by California.
New York: Sen. Kevin S. Parker (D) has introduced S6722, which is the most aggressive legislation of any state so far. In addition to allowing players to earn off their name, image and likeness, the bill also requires schools to "take 15 percent of revenue earned from athletics ticket sales and divide such revenue among student-athletes," among other things. You can read the bill in its entirety here.
Pennsylvania: Reps. Dan Miller (D) and Ed Gainey (D) are "seeking a bipartisan group of legislatures to sign onto the bill before formally introducing it" in their state, according to Time.
South Carolina: Sens. Marlon Kimpson (D) and Justin Bamberg (D) are building a bill that most specifically applies to revenue sports in their state: football, men's and women's basketball. No additional details have been provided.
Washington: Rep. Drew Stokesbary (R) has been on this for months. His proposal, House Bill 1084, has been going on since almost the beginning of 2019. From his own website: "Under the bill, it would be a violation of the Washington State Consumer Protection Act and state antitrust laws for the NCAA or an athletic conference, like the Pac-12 Conference, to prohibit Washington students from being paid for their services or to punish the team or school of an athlete who was paid."
Maryland has also been considering taking action, and it wouldn't be a surprise to hear more chatter from that state soon. Connecticut state Sen. Matt Lesser (D) has been looking into this issue for "several years," a fellow Connecticut legislator told CBS Sports.
The states alone are one huge headache for the NCAA. What would be easier, though, is a federal statute that would apply across every state. And there are two potential bills that are in the works. Rep. Mark Walker, R-NC, has been working on the Student Equity Act, which would bring above board payments for name, image and likeness to college athletes.
Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, R-OH, a former Ohio State wide receiver, wants to bring about change at the federal level as well. He wants to introduce not only a bill that would apply to college athletes across the country but one with an aggressive timeline for activation. However, Gonzalez stated that he wants to see what conclusions an NCAA working group come to first.
"I actually think that we need to do something quickly, within the next year," Gonzalez told ESPN.
All this potential legislation — and to be clear, it's likely that some will fail at the state level; the federal bills could be just as challenging — is forming like black storm clouds over Mark Emmert and his colleagues in Indianapolis. It's not just politicians who are lining up against the NCAA. A poll published Thursday from Seton Hall, in which 714 Americans across the country were surveyed, found that 60% of the population is in favor of college athletes having NIL rights, a near 2-to-1 margin against the NCAA's traditional position on the issue.
American adults under the age of 30 supported NIL to the tune of 80%.
So October is monumental not just because of the movement afoot in nearly a dozen states but also because the NCAA's working group on name, image and likeness is entering the final phase of its formal proposal to the Board of Governors.
The Board of Governors will meet Oct. 28-29 in Atlanta. At that point, they'll receive the proposal on what should come next for the NCAA and its bylaws and where the organization can move forward with name, image and likeness rights for college athletes. Few expect the recommendations therein to match the ambitiousness of California's SB206, but it's a huge moment for the NCAA because, without a significant step forward into empowering student-athletes, the organization will have no other choice but to wait on court case after court case, lawsuit after lawsuit, bringing about unending chaos.
It doesn't want that. Essentially, no one does. With so many states ready to try and press forward with similar bills to the one signed into law in California, we wait to see what the NCAA is open to and where the political chess game goes from there.