The fight for college athletes to get paid has officially started to move forward. For many years it was always a conversation but, a bill to allow college athletes to get paid has officially passed.

Nancy Skinner, a former California State Assembly member and long-time advocate for the 99%, the underdog, and the longshot “championing causes that one might expect from a Berkeley activist: organizing graduate assistant teachers, banning Styrofoam from fast-food business and raising taxes on the rich.” Skinner was considering a run for State Senate and was curious as to if the state could make a change.

Billy Witz, a journalist for the New York Times, wrote: “Skinner, who was elected to the State Senate three years ago, produced a bill that would allow college athletes in California to be paid for the use of their name, image, and likeness.” This is not limited to sports that produce large incomes, such as football and basketball but, it applies to all sports. 

The “Fair Pay to Play Act” was written by Skinner along with Steven Bradford, made it past the State Assembly on Monday (Aug. 2, 2019) by a vote of 72-0. Many of the people in support of this bill were civil rights advocates. The bill, “S.B. 206, would go into effect Jan. 1, 2023, and it has provoked the expected opposition from the N.C.A.A.” 

Not only has the N.C.A.A. shown opposition towards this measure but, the University of California (UC) and California State University (CSU) systems along with distinguished private colleges such as Stanford and the University of Southern California. The reason for the strong opposition is because leaders in college sports foresee a “doomsday scenario”. 

According to Larry Scott, the commissioner of the Pac-12 Conference, this scenario is that of which these California institutions could be prohibited from competing in N.C.A.A. championships “because they would have an unfair recruiting advantage – being able to lure athletes with the possibility of cashing in on anything from jersey sales to sponsorship deals.”

In an article from the Los Angeles Times,Andy Fee, the athletic director at Long Beach State warned of “unintended consequences.” Fee stated, “I fear the distinct possibility of a scenario where California schools could be expelled for willful breaking of NCAA rules. Should California schools be expelled, the very student-athletes the bill is intended to assist would be adversely affected.”

The legislation got some attention from NBA superstar LeBron James and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. James encouraged California residents to get their state representatives to support the bill.

James tweeted: “Everyone in 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.” Senator Sanders quoted the tweet saying: “College athletes are workers. Pay them.”

The N.C.A.A. will most likely review the name, image, and likeness issue and the panel is scheduled to make a final report to the association’s board of governors in October.

The Fair Pay to Play Act is expected to be signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom and again, will go into effect on January 1, 2023.

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