For many years, people have been debating whether college athletes should be paid. This issue could turn into reality very soon, as a new bill was signed into law last week by California Governor Gavin Newsom to tackle this matter. Taking effect in 2023, the new bill, titled the Fair Pay-to-Play Act, would allow National College Athletic Association athletes in the state to make a profit from endorsements, merchandise sales and other uses of their names, images and likeness. Athletes will have the ability to hire agents to negotiate deals for them.
Current NCAA rules prevent athletes from earning revenue towards their names. Players in the past including Terrelle Pryor, Todd Gurley and Johnny Manziel have been issued penalties for making a profit during their college years. Those in favor of the law include professional athletes such as Lebron James, Draymond Green, Joe Thomas and Richard Sherman. They argue that the organization has robbed student athletes of money that they deserve to make. Critics argue that players are not deserving of the opportunity to make money from playing college sports because they are amateurs, they are given scholarships and the cost of attending the school is covered by the university. Critics of the law include former college football superstar Tim Tebow and former Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz.
Tebow was one of the most polarizing athletes during his time at Florida University. He says that he did not make a dollar off of his jersey, and he didn’t want to. He says, “It’s about your team. It’s about your university. It’s about where my family wanted to go. And you’re taking that away so young kids can earn a dollar. And I feel like that’s just not where college football needs to go.”
On the other hand, James did not attend college, as he was drafted in the National Basketball Association by the Cleveland Cavaliers out of high school. He says that the decision to compensate athletes is personal to him. “The university would have been able to capitalize on everything that I would’ve done there for that year or two.” He added that it would have been unfair to him if his jersey was sold without receiving any benefits from it.
The NCAA released a statement that read, “The NCAA agrees changes are needed to continue to support student athletes, but improvement needs to happen on a national level through the NCAA’s rules making process.” The organization also said that they will consider the next steps and move forward with efforts to make adjustments to names, images and likeness rules.
Several years ago, EA Sports discontinued its “NCAA Sports” video game series due to the controversy surrounding the use of athletes images and likeness. EA Sports produced video games for college sports such as football and basketball. Many fans have expressed their frustration with the decision, but the decision to cancel the series came down to legal disputes with former college athletes.
States such as Florida, New York and Pennsylvania have shown interest in adopting similar laws to allow college athletes to be compensated for their work. This issue has been under debate for many years, and the conversation will only continue to spread as laws get put into place throughout the nation in the years to come.
Erick Klambara is a first-year student majoring in media and cultures. EK924666@wcupa.edu