You may have seen it, but we haven’t strayed away from touching on the proposal of the Fair Pay to Play Act; you can find that here, and here. In short, California has passed a bill that will allow college athletes to receive monetary compensation from things like their image and likeness, and endorsements. State Bill 206 will come into effect in January of 2023. The Golden State isn’t alone on this path, as other states, like Illinois, Nevada, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and others appear ready to join the fray.
So, what does this mean for college golf? In the grand scheme of college athletics, does any sport fly under the radar like college golf? Tennis, maybe? Regardless, collegiate golf presents a unique aspect to the issue. While the worlds of college football and basketball will be dominated by the potential of using Name Image and likeness, college golf doesn’t have quite the same appeal. Name one popular college golfer with in the last few decades. Tiger Woods? Sure, but nobody knew who Jordan Spieth was until he was on the tour. Viktor Hovland, the PGA rookie is a good answer, though most of his notoriety is from his success in the Major championships he was able to compete in through amateur invites. The point is that there isn’t much of a market for merchandise sales because of a lack of notoriety that would create a significant, or even stable cash flow from a collegiate golfer’s name image and likeness.
The difference in college golf, however, is the potential that can come from endorsements for athletes playing in applicable states. For the most part, it appears the bill will allow players to partake in endorsement deals that don’t directly compete with his/her respective program’s endorsement deals. This makes golf unique, as universities don’t partner with equipment companies and athletes are free to select the equipment of their choosing, as any amateur would. This would open the door for equipment companies like Titleist and Callaway to swoop in and provide endorsement deals with athletes. Whether that will happen remains to be seen, but the difference between golf and the other major sports is interesting, and it adds another level of difficulty to the analysis of the impending law. As of right now, companies like Callaway have remained hush on this topic.
A Callaway spokesperson told GOLF.com that the company has no comment on the law at this time, while Chris Armstrong, a sports agent who represents, among others, the young PGA Tour stars Cameron Champ and Tony Finau, said he’s also taking a wait-and-see approach.“How California’s Fair Pay to Play Act could alter the landscape of college golf ” -Golf.com
The changes are years away, but closer than they appear. There really isn’t any “correct” answer, but it’s important to understand that there’s more to the bill than appears on its face, and it it will have ramifications for other sports outside the big few.