State Legislatures are Hacking Away at the Foundations of NCAA “Amateurism”

LeBron James hosts the signing of California’s Fair Pay to Play Act on his show.

With California being the first state to pass a law that will allow student athletes to receive compensation for use of their name, image, and likeness, other states are following suit. Celebrity athletes such as LeBron James, Draymond Green, and Richard Sherman praise the fall of the NCAA “amateurism” model and look forward to the dismantling of the “corrupt” NCAA.

The dominoes that make up NCAA “amateurism” are falling. Various state legislatures have begun introducing bills (see map below) that will allow student athletes to receive compensation from endorsements based on use of their name, image, and likeness. Other states have taken this a step further and are proposing that student athletes receive compensation directly – with New York State Senator Kevin Parker proposing a bill that would require college athletic departments to give a 15% share of annual revenue to student athletes.

Celebrity athletes such as LeBron James, Draymond Green, and Richard Sherman not only support this movement that is beginning to dismantle NCAA “amateurism,” they are actively pushing other states to follow suit, challenging the “corrupt” NCAA. Early on in the process of introducing California’s Fair Pay to Play Act, LeBron James took to social media to encourage individuals to push their state representatives to pass the Act. Although James never played for a college that sold jerseys with his number and refused to compensate him for such, he argues that this fight is personal to him. In an interview with ESPN, James stated:

“Coming from the … just from me and my mom we didn’t have anything. We wouldn’t have been able to benefit at all from [a college selling a No. 23 jersey, selling out the arena for his games and being in the NCAA basketball video game]. And the university would have been able to capitalize on everything that I would’ve been there for that year or two or whatever. I understand what those kids are going through. I feel for those kids who’ve been going through it for so long, so that’s why it was personal to me.”

When California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a landmark bill into law on Monday, LeBron James hosted the signing and expressed his excitement on social media. James declared that the passing of this Act, and subsequent acts by various states, will allow countless student athletes to receive the compensation they deserve and will ultimately change lives.

 Golden State forward Draymond Green had a strong opinion about the NCAA while discussing California passing the Fair Pay to Play Act. Green, reflecting on being broke throughout college while others profited off of his (and other athletes’ likenesses) noted that this is the “most bankrupt model.” He called the NCAA a dictatorship and demanded change.

San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman had even more passionate comments about the NCAA. In an interview with the San Jose Mercury News, Sherman stated:

“I hope it destroys the NCAA because I think it’s corrupt and it’s a bunch of people taking advantage of kids and doing it under a mask of fair play. It’s going to cripple the NCAA in a way where they start to bend, make it more fair and more of a symbiotic relationship between players and the NCAA, or it’s going to destroy them in general and start a whole new way of college athletics in general, and I can respect that, too.”

The dominoes keep falling as New York, Washington, Colorado, Maryland, Florida, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota have introduced bills to allow student athlete compensation in some form. As more states join the movement, 2020 is shaping up to be a monumental year in challenging the NCAA and its “amateurism” model.

We will continue to update our map as more states challenge the NCAA’s treatment of student athletes, including barring them from receiving compensation. See our continuously updated map here.

California:

PASSED Fair Pay to Play Act. Colleges in California cannot punish their student athletes for collecting endorsement money – focused on name, image, and likeness.

Washington:

 INTRODUCED HB 1084. Student athletes in Washington would be able to collect pay for endorsements and hire agents.

Colorado:

INTRODUCED law. Student athletes in Colorado would be able to collect pay for endorsements – name, image, and likeness. Also, student athletes could be paid directly for competing.

New York:

INTRODUCED law. Colleges would be required to pay student athletes directly. College athletic departments required to give a 15% share of annual revenue to student athletes. Also, college athletes would have the ability to sell the rights to their own name, image, and likeness.

Maryland:

INTRODUCED law. Student athletes in Maryland would have the right to unionize and participate in collective bargaining over issues related to health, safety, and compensation.

South Carolina:

INTRODUCED law. Would require the biggest colleges in South Carolina to pay $5,000-a-year stipends to athletes in profitable sports like football and basketball. Would give student athletes an opportunity to earn money from sponsorships and autograph sales.

Florida:

INTRODUCED HB 251. Student athletes in Florida would be able to be paid for use of their name, image, and likeness.

Pennsylvania:

INTRODUCED, TO BE PROPOSED. A Pennsylvania house memo indicates that Rep. Dan Miller (D-42) and Rep. Ed Gainey (D-24) are proposing law that would allow college athletes in Pennsylvania to sign endorsement deals, earn compensation for their name, image, and likeness, and sign licensing contracts in order to earn money. The legislation would also allow college athletes to hire an agent.

Minnesota:

INTRODUCED, YET TO BE PROPOSED. A member of the Minnesota Legislature is working on a proposal that would let the state’s college athletes hire agents and make money from endorsements. Rep. Nolan West, a Republican from Blaine, said his goal will be to introduce it in the Minnesota House during the 2020 legislative session.

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