NCAA urges California governor not to sign 'fair pay' bill


INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The NCAA's Board of Governors is urging Gov. Gavin Newsom not to sign a California bill that would allow college athletes to receive money for their names, likenesses or images.

The bill, known as the Fair Pay to Play Act, passed the state Assembly 66-0 on Monday. The state Senate approved the measure 31-5 earlier this year but a revote is expected later this week because of changes made to the original bill.

In a six-paragraph letter to Newsom, the board said the bill would give California schools an unfair recruiting advantage. As a result, the letter says, the NCAA would declare those schools ineligible for its events.

The NCAA said the legislation would impact more than 24,000 college athletes in the nation's most populous state.

Donald Remy, the NCAA's chief operating officer and chief legal officer, told The Associated Press he believes the proposal also would violate the federal Commerce Clause.

Governor Newsom:

The 1,100 schools that make up the NCAA have always, in everything we do, supported a level playing field for all student-athletes. This core belief extends to each member college and university in every state across the nation.

California Senate Bill 206 would upend that balance. If the bill becomes law and California’s 58 NCAA schools are compelled to allow an unrestricted name, image and likeness scheme, it would erase the critical distinction between college and professional athletics and, because it gives those schools an unfair recruiting advantage, would result in them eventually being unable to compete in NCAA competitions. These outcomes are untenable and would negatively impact more than 24,000 California student-athletes across three divisions.

Right now, nearly half a million student-athletes in all 50 states compete under the same rules. This bill would remove that essential element of fairness and equal treatment that forms the bedrock of college sports.

The NCAA continues to focus on the best interests of all student-athletes nationwide. NCAA member schools already are working on changing rules for all student-athletes to appropriately use their name, image and likeness in accordance with our values — but not pay them to play. The NCAA has consistently stood by its belief that student-athletes are students first, and they should not be employees of the university.

It isn’t possible to resolve the challenges of today’s college sports environment in this way — by one state taking unilateral action. With more than 1,100 schools and nearly 500,000 student-athletes across the nation, the rules and policies of college sports must be established through the Association’s collaborative governance system. A national model of collegiate sport requires mutually agreed upon rules.

We urge the state of California to reconsider this harmful and, we believe, unconstitutional bill and hope the state will be a constructive partner in our efforts to develop a fair name, image and likeness approach for all 50 states.


Members of the NCAA Board of Governors

    Stevie Baker-Watson, DePauw University

    M. Grace Calhoun, University of Pennsylvania

    Ken Chenault, General Catalyst

    Mary Sue Coleman, Association of American Universities

    John DeGioia, Georgetown University

    Michael Drake, The Ohio State University

    Philip DiStefano, University of Colorado, Boulder

    Mark Emmert, NCAA

    Sue Henderson, New Jersey City University

    Grant Hill, CBS/Warner and The Atlanta Hawks

    Sandra Jordan, University of South Carolina Aiken

    Renu Khator, University of Houston

    Laura Liesman, Georgian Court University

    Ronald Machtley, Bryant University

    The Rev. James Maher, Niagara University

    Denis McDonough, Former White House Chief of Staff

    Tori Murden McClure, Spalding University

    Gary Olson, Daemen College

    Denise Trauth, Texas State University

    Satish Tripathi, University at Buffalo, the State University of New York

    David Wilson, Morgan State University

    Randy Woodson, North Carolina State University

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