Bill to pay college athletes advances through California Senate

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Thursday, May 23, 2019
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If the assembly passes this bill, college athletes would get money from endorsements and sponsorships for the first time ever.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KGO) -- A landmark bill from California Congresswoman Nancy Skinner that would allow college athletes to get money from endorsements moved one step closer to becoming a reality.

On Wednesday, the California Senate voted 31-4 to pass SB 206 "The Fair Pay to Play Act". It now heads to the state Assembly for consideration.

"The California Senate has spoken loud and clear: Student athletes should enjoy the same right as all other students - to earn income from their talent," Rep. Skinner, D-Berkeley, said. "SB 206 gives our college athletes the same financial opportunity afforded to Olympic athletes."

Skinner argues that student athletes generate tens of billions of dollars for their colleges, corporate sponsors, and television networks but don't get their fair share of the revenue.

A report from the National College Players Association and Drexel University found that 85 percent of full-scholarship athletes who live on campus and 86 percent of full-scholarship athletes who live off campus live at or below the federal poverty level.

"NCAA rules disproportionately harm students from low-income families," Skinner added. "And they're particularly unfair to female athletes, because for many young women, college is the only time they could earn income, since women have fewer professional sports opportunities than men."

Under the bill, all California student athletes would be able to hire sports agents and earn money from their name, image, or likeness starting in 2023.

The bill would also prohibit schools from enforcing NCAA rules that prevent athletes from earning compensation and it would bar the NCAA from preventing student athletes from earning compensation.

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The NCAA has not commented on this latest development but has argued in the past that allowing compensation to athletes beyond scholarships would undermine the "integration of academics and athletics in the campus community"

But the bill would not allow colleges from signing high school students to sponsorship deals as a recruiting tool.