By Jack Belanger ’21
The debate about whether college athletes should be compensated has recently reached a new peak that could shift the sports landscape in the near future. The state assembly and senate of California just passed SB 206, also known as the Fair Pay to Play Act, which would allow college athletes within the state to sign endorsement deals and be compensated for the use of their name, image, and likeness. If signed by Governor Gavin Newsom, it will be the first bill of its kind to allow college athletes to receive some form of compensation and would go into effect in 2023.
If the bill is passed, it will send shock waves through the entire country, affecting colleges, the NCAA, and even state governments. Schools in California will have a significant advantage when it comes to recruiting high school athletes who may be deciding between schools across several states. The NCAA has already sent a letter to Gov. Newsom, asking him to veto the bill, stating it would “remove the essential element of fairness and equal treatment that forms the bedrock of college sports.”
The NCAA also threatened to prohibit California schools from competing for championships due to the unfair advantage in recruiting.
Passage of this bill would put pressure on the NCAA to reconsider their rules against compensating college athletes. If the organization stands firm in its stance, even their threats will not stop the wave the bill would start.
Lawmakers in South Carolina are now planning on proposing a similar bill that would pay a $5,000-a-year stipend to collegiate athletes in profitable sports like football and basketball. If the NCAA wants to keep consistency across the country, then action needs to be taken before even more states pass laws to ensure their schools do not find themselves at a disadvantage.
States such as the University of Alabama and the University of Georgia, where football brings in millions of dollars and is integral to the school’s culture, are likely to start taking action if the top athletes start choosing schools such as the University of Southern California and University of California-Los Angeles at a higher rate over their own state schools.
While a basketball-centered school such as Providence College may not be affected right away, once states that have big-time college basketball programs begin to incorporate similar laws, Rhode Island’s hand may be forced to take action to prevent PC from falling behind in recruiting.