OPINION: NEW BILL GIVES NCAA NEEDED WAKEUP CALL

 RYAN REEBENACKER, TRUMPET SPORTS WRITER, KV NEWS EXECUTIVE PRODUCER

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed SB 206 into law on Sept. 30, which will officially make one of the core tenets of the NCAA illegal in the state by 2023. SB 206, or the Fair Pay to Play Act, stated colleges in California can no longer legally fine or otherwise punish athletes for collecting endorsement money related to their name, image or likeness, according to ESPN.

The NCAA responded in short order to the signed bill, by saying it would “consider next steps in California while our members move forward with ongoing efforts to make adjustments to NCAA name, image and likeness rules that are both realistic in modern society and tied to higher education.”

While Wartburg College is a NCAA affiliated D-III institution, it is not likely that the bill will affect the college or the division. Some exceptions may apply, but the impact it could have on D-I athletics is profound.

The bill, which I view as both bold and long-overdue, will rattle the foundation of the multi-billion dollar NCAA. It sets up a stalemate between the state of California and the NCAA that will likely end one of three ways.

The first is that California adopts the bill in four years, and the NCAA has not prepared a way for it to work around the account. This is likely what neither side is hoping for right now, as it would result in the NCAA having to remove any California school from NCAA sanctioned competition, including championships, due to the pay advantage athletes would receive in the state. In this event, it is unclear what California, or schools who may adopt similar bills, would react, ESPN reported.

The second way entails the NCAA doing something completely uncharacteristic, which would be changing for the better and allowing athletes to market their names, images and likeness like normal human beings.

The main way for the NCAA to work around excluding California schools would be to change the rules nationwide to allow all players to profit in similar ways. 

Currently, NCAA rules do not allow a player to accept any compensation related to the athlete’s status from outside sources or hire an agent to represent their interests.

By passing this bill into law, California is taking a bold step. The decision could radically change the business of an organization that has made billions of dollars off of athletes who have worked hard to hone athletic skills to an elite level. 

To be fair to all sides, the ramifications of the bill could very well change colleges. If colleges can no longer collect on some of the rights that now go back to the athletes, how will this affect all students’ tuition rates? 

The unfortunate reality is that the status quo is simply not good enough anymore, because the rules are currently outdated. The world is increasingly becoming an entertainment venue, and athletes can no longer be barred from marketing their own earned skills. 

One common misconception about the law is that colleges will be directly paying athletes. The bill only corrects an outdated NCAA regulation that blocks athletes from having the ability to profit from their personal brand and likeness. That should be their right. 

The NCAA, over the past few decades, has consistently acted in the best interests of its profit margins instead of the student athletes it governs. With the enactment of the Fair Pay to Play Act, and bills like it, the NCAA will finally be forced to change for the better. 

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