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College athletes in the great state of California might be among the first to get legally paid for being a college athlete. Under the Fair Pay to Play Act, which just passed through the California House, college athletes would be allowed to accept sponsorship deals in order to get paid. Of course the act must still pass through the senate and be signed by the governor before becoming law.
The bill's sponsor, Representative Nancy Skinner, explained that college athletes are all too susceptible to being exploited and then hung out to dry by the schools that truly reaped the benefit. That's because the vast majority of college athletes do not become professional athletes. However, student athletes risk serious injury, as well as injuries that could impact the rest of their lives, while schools make massive profits as a result.
It's curious that universities will employ students to do everything from serving food to teaching other students. However, when it comes to athletes, playing on the college stage just doesn't seem to be something schools want to pay for, despite the clear benefit the schools receive. Though, at this point, the NCAA is likely the bigger roundblock. Notably, the proposed California law doesn't actually require the schools to pay athletes, but rather, it leaves the athletes to figure out ways to monetize their own collegiate sports careers. And in today's era of social media influencers and viral fame, student athletes are particularly well poised to take advantage of such a law.
California is not alone in seeking to empower student athletes. Washington state is also considering a similar law.
NCAA Ready for Battle
Unfortunately, even if the states pass these laws, it’s important to note that the NCAA wouldn't necessarily have to follow them. Meaning that while schools in those states might not be able to stop the athletes from getting paid, the NCAA still might be able to. The Association is likely to put up a fight, as schools in states that would allow student athletes to get paid would certainly have a leg up when it came to recruiting.