Was California the icebreaker for state governments to start pushing for the rights of college athletes?
Two lawmakers in South Carolina now want athletes in their state to get paid. Sen. Marlon Kimpson and Rep. Justin Bamberg, both Democrats, want to introduce a bill in January that would be similar to what just passed in California.
Their proposal would allow the state’s biggest colleges to pay $5,000-a-year stipends to athletes in profitable sports like football and basketball. It also would give collegiate athletes — who can receive free tuition and housing, but not pay — an opportunity to earn money from sponsorships and autograph sales for the first time.
California’s state senate and assembly passed a bill this week that would allow all college athletes in the state to generate outside revenue like sponsor and endorsement money based on their image and likeness. The bill is now headed to the desk of Gov. Gavin Newsom to be potentially signed into law effective Jan. 1, 2023.
Unlike the South Carolina idea, the California bill does not say schools would be required to pay its athletes.
NCAA says California bill is ‘unconstitutional’
As you know, NCAA rules prohibit players from getting paid by their schools or anyone else based on their status as a college athlete. And the California bill has the NCAA’s attention. The NCAA has even gone so far as to call it “unconstitutional,” though it, not so curiously, declined to say what part of the United States Constitution would be violated if college athletes could get paid.
Kimpson admitted to The State that the California bill was part of the reason why he wanted to push his efforts forward in South Carolina, even though the political climate in the state may make it extremely difficult to get put into law.
“The legislation passed in California is a sign of the times,” Kimpson said. “The NCAA is not an amateur sports league. This is a multibillion dollar sports empire where everyone involved makes money except the players on the field who earn it.”
Right now it’s unclear how the potential California law would be enforced because the NCAA is not a governmental body. But there’s still three years to figure all of that out. And, quite frankly, it may be a mess that never has to be figured out.
The California bill’s greatest accomplishment may simply end up being the pressure it’s putting on the NCAA if legislators in other states start doing what Kimpson and Bamberg are doing. The NCAA already has a working group set up to examine how the governing body handles name and image rights for athletes.
If more and more state governments finally start taking the side of college athletes then the working group may have no choice but to drastically change the way college athletes can make money to avoid messy legal battles all across the country.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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