Skinner’s ‘Fair Pay to Play Act’ moves ahead despite warning from NCAA

A bill that could dramatically change the lucrative business of college athletics passed its first hurdle in the Assembly. East Bay state Sen. Nancy Skinner’s legislation to allow student-athletes the right to be compensated for the use of their name and image likeness was approved by an Assembly committee Tuesday. The bill gained passage out of the state Senate last May by a vote of 31-5.

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The legislation, co-authored by Southern California state Sen. Steven Bradford, was approved by the Assembly Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism, and Internet Media Committee, 5-0.

Skinner, pictured right, told the committee the bill affords rights that other amateur athletes already hold. “It provides our college athletes the same rights as Olympic athletes, to receive a financial gain from their name, image and likeness through sponsorships and endorsements.” If any another billion-dollar business was exploiting students, such as she believes the NCAA is doing, there would a furious public outcry, Skinner added.

Tuesday’s hearing came days after Mark Emmert, the president of the NCAA, which governs college athletics, issued a warning to state legislators that passage of the bill could result in California universities being excluded from NCAA championship events.

EBC 10 fundraising ad1If approved and signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom, the legislation would go into effect in 2023. Last May, the NCAA created a task force to study the issue of compensating student athletes.

Although most lower-tiered college sports do not create much revenue for universities, big-time sports such as football and men’s and women’s basketball are fueled by billion-dollar television rights deals and millions more in school-related hats, t-shirts, and jerseys.

Student-athletes, however, do not receive any portion of the financial windfall. In recent years, some have come to describe the dynamics as similar to a plantation owner and slave.

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