Fair Pay to Play Act set to begin in 2023

NCAA’s pre-existing endorsement restrictions nullified

Set to take effect on Jan. 1, 2023, the newly passed Fair Pay to Play Act will allow college athletes in California to profit off of endorsement deals for the first time. This bill played a role in pressuring the National Collegiate Athletic Association to nationally allow athletes to pick up endorsements. 

Prior to this Californian bill, the multibillion-dollar college sports industry has been dominated by the National Collegiate Athletic Association, which has, until now, denied college athletes the ability to profit off their respective talents, claiming that the previous amateurism rules “focus [athletes] on spending their time doing what students do, rather than trying to make as much money as possible, which is what professionals do.”

The bill, signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, was intended to “pressure the National Collegiate Athletic Association to change its rules before [2023],” according to Vox. The primary conflict within the realm of profitability in college athletics is that of who is bringing in the money and who the money goes to. Prior to the NCAA’s decision, successful college coaches, for example, can earn millions of dollars yearly, while college athletes earn nothing. In addition, teams that have allowed their players to make money have faced threats from the NCAA of being dropped and their athletes becoming ineligible to compete at the collegiate level, including California.

College coaches can be paid up to $9.3 million, like Clemson University’s head football coach Dabo Swinney, who is the NCAA’s highest-paid coach. Likewise, the heads of the Big Ten Conference for football and the NCAA made $5.5 and $4 million in 2018, respectively. 

This landmark decision does not permit college athletes to be paid directly by their respective colleges, and athletes cannot enter deals that conflict with existing contracts that the school has.

“Many will argue that money goes back to the athletes in different ways like improved facilities (which ultimately serve as a recruiting tool to bring in more athletes), but it can’t legally go to the athletes that are generating that revenue with their talent and athleticism,” Athletic Director Tim Chevalier wrote to the Talon.

Each year, OPHS has several students who go on to participate in college athletics after they graduate, according to Chevalier. At the end of the 2018-19 school year, there were 15 seniors who signed a National Letter of Intent, legally committing them to play their sport in college, which typically happens on Nov. 15 — Signing Day.

“We have had cross country, football, volleyball, tennis, golf, basketball, soccer, lacrosse, baseball, and softball athletes compete at the next level. The most common sports that OPHS athletes go on to compete in are cross country, football, basketball, lacrosse, and baseball,” Chevalier wrote. “However, it is important to note that we have athletes across all of our programs that compete at the next level.”

After California passed their bill, the act gained popularity across the country; a similar bill was introduced in Illinois and lawmakers in Pennsylvania were in the process of developing one as well. As these decisions were being made, the NCAA, who had criticized Newsom for his decision, announced that they were implementing this change for all collegiate sports.