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'Fair Pay To Play Act' That Could Help College Athletes Get Paid Now Has Powerful Backer: LeBron James

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NBA superstar LeBron James is urging California lawmakers to pass a bill that would allow college athletes to make money from endorsements, despite concerns voiced by the NCAA.

In February, California state senators introduced Senate Bill 206, which is called the “Fair Pay to Play Act.”

The law would bar California colleges from punishing athletes who make money off of endorsements, according to ESPN.

The bill cleared the state Senate and is under consideration in the California Assembly.

James on Thursday tweeted his support for the bill.

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“Everyone is California- call your politicians and tell them to support SB 206! This law is a GAME CHANGER. College athletes can responsibly get paid for what they do and the billions they create,” he tweeted.

“California can change the game. This is only right waaaayy overdue. #morethananathlete,” James added in a follow-up tweet.

State Sens. Nancy Skinner and Steven Bradford introduced the proposal, which would ban colleges from taking away scholarships or removing eligibility from players who either profit from endorsements or hire agents to represent them in negotiating deals.

They say the bill puts college players on par with Olympic athletes in terms of profiting from endorsements.

If passed, the bill would take effect in 2023.

“As I have read through multiple pages of articles on the NCAA and its punishments and its prohibitions and how folks have lost eligibility, it’s right out of the ‘Godfather’ movie,” Assemblywoman Sydney Kamlager-Dove, a Democrat, said before supporting the bill during a committee hearing in June, the Los Angeles Times reported.

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Skinner said female athletes will particularly benefit from the law.

“College may be the only time for which their athletic prowess may be so valued that they might be able to have their hometown car dealer … sponsor them, or a Rotary Club or a Kiwanis Club — all of which is prohibited now under the NCAA rules,” she said.

Bradford said the law is all about fairness.

“I wish this bill did more,” he said. “I wish it guaranteed continuing education for any athlete who played for a major university until they achieve a degree and if they want to get a graduate degree they should be afforded that opportunity.”

“They generate millions of dollars and don’t benefit,” Bradford said.

NCAA president Mark Emmert has asked that California wait until the NCAA consider the issue at the national level.

An NCAA group studying the issue is expected to issue a report in October.

“[W]hen contrasted with current NCAA rules, as drafted the bill threatens to alter materially the principles of intercollegiate athletics and create local differences that would make it impossible to host fair national championships. As a result, it likely would have a negative impact on the exact student-athletes it intends to assist,” Emmert wrote in a letter to legislators, adding that the NCAA would not consider “concepts by which student-athletes are considered employees and paid for their athletics participation.”

Stanford athletic director Bernard Muir has also come out against the proposal.

“Allowing student-athletes to receive compensation from their name, image, and likeness, would present serious challenges for higher education institutions and to the collegiate sports model,” Muir said in a letter to lawmakers.

“We believe that for any reform to be fair and meaningful to all student-athletes it needs to occur at the national level and be adopted by the NCAA.”

Long Beach State athletic director Andy Fee also urged caution to consider the “many potential and unintended consequences” of the law.

“I fear the distinct possibility of a scenario where California schools could be expelled for willful breaking of NCAA rules,” he said.

“Should California schools be expelled, the very student-athletes the bill is intended to assist would be adversely affected.”

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Jack Davis is a freelance writer who joined The Western Journal in July 2015 and chronicled the campaign that saw President Donald Trump elected. Since then, he has written extensively for The Western Journal on the Trump administration as well as foreign policy and military issues.
Jack Davis is a freelance writer who joined The Western Journal in July 2015 and chronicled the campaign that saw President Donald Trump elected. Since then, he has written extensively for The Western Journal on the Trump administration as well as foreign policy and military issues.
Jack can be reached at jackwritings1@gmail.com.
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